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Friday, 25 March 2011

Book Blurb Friday - Going Away


The lovely Lisa at Writing in the Buff hosts Book Blurb Friday. Each week Lisa posts a pretend book cover to fire our imaginations. Our task is to write the book blurb for the back cover in 150 words or less.

Going Away

Where do werewolves, witches and warlocks go for a holiday?

The Hotel Candice is a rather run-down, unassuming building, sandwiched between tall office blocks. No-one gives it a second glance, unless they have the Sight. The check-in girl is an amnesiac vampire and the chef has to keep checking he’s all there. The resident ghost (gender unknown) plays the piano in the evenings and the bar tender spends his time brewing potions in the cellar.

However, the hotel boasts the only working (most of the time) portal to Fungaria, a paradise for the paranormal and it’s fully booked. When the Fungarian goblin police arrive claiming that one of the guests has stolen the irreplaceable Heart of the Medusa, Manager Colly Buckworth must solve the mystery before the hotel is laid waste by the goblin armies.

And on top of everything, it’s his time of the month ...

148 words.

Come and join in! Writing in the Buff

Scroll down for my Second Crusader Challenge

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Second Crusader Challenge

So here is the second crusader challenge:

Write a flash fiction story (in any format) in 100 words or less, excluding the title. Begin the story with the words, “The goldfish bowl teetered” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional, and not part of the judging criteria), see if you can write the story in your own genre (eg if you’re a horror writer, write a horror story; a romance writer, a romance story, etc).

So science fiction it is then ...

The goldfish bowl teetered on the edge of the command console as gravity reasserted itself. Lieutenant Xjansh shot out a pseudopod and caught it, sulphuric acid swirling against the containment field that sealed the top. He carefully slid it back into its recess and re-activated the vacuum clamps. A series of lights blinked on as the bowl went back on line, their cool blue glow illuminating a goldfish with a face like thunder.

“Which one of you numbskulls can’t read plain Vargzush?” the fish roared. “’Off’ means no power ... anywhere.”

The duty ensign blushed green. “Sorry Captain.”

------------ o0O0o ---------------

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Haiku Wednesday Roots

Sensational Haiku Wednesday

Join the fun!
You know ... that Blog?

Today's topic is Roots

Blondes have all the fun
The slow passing of the days
Shows her true colours

Really sorry but I was up at 5:15am and am feeling a little jaded right now!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Flash Fiction

Just a heads up for a great little flash fiction by Emma at The Voices in my Head


Monday, 21 March 2011

Micro Fiction Monday

As Susan at Stony River seems to be on a hiatus at the moment, I thought I would do my own Microfiction Monday. (This is a purely temporary measure until Susan has properly decided what she wants to do) If anyone else wants to do one using this picture - please be my guest!

I'll add a Mr Linky if people would like it.

So the object is to write a story inspired by this picture (or a caption) in 140 characters or less.


The men had been debating for half an hour about what happens next. Muriel sighed. They really hadn't got the hang of the bohemian lifestyle


Sunday, 20 March 2011

Sunday Reflection

Last week I started to talk about Jesus's temptation in the wilderness and we thought about his forty days without food and how hungry he must have been. We considered the temptation to turn the stones into bread to satisfy his hunger. The real temptation here was to defy God's command in order to prove himself - to give in to his pride.

This week we are looking at the second of the temptations.

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

So Jesus is led to a high place and is shown all the kingdoms of the world. I have a feeling that this was not actually Jesus climbing a mountain for a good view, but being incorporeally high up in his mind's eye. It's not that one can't see "all the kingdoms of the world" from a physical mountain, that makes me say this, but because in a dream or a daydream you can look at something and just know what it is or what it represents without actually having ever seen it before. It doesn't actually matter; what is important here is that Jesus understands that the Devil is offering him Kingship the easy way. Jesus won his Kingship through obedience, suffering, death and resurrection. What a great temptation to take the short cut.

I love this picture from the Sudan, because it is a reminder to me not to fall into the trap of thinking Jesus looked just like me.

Now here is an interesting question. Surely the world is God's, so wasn't the Devil offering Jesus something that he hadn't got? Well, yes and no. You may recall that God gave the world as a gift to mankind in Genesis Chapter 1 at the beginning of all things. (At some stage mankind will have to answer for what we have done with this precious gift, but that's a thought for another time.)
But in fact Jesus is shown the kingdoms of man, which is a physical kingship - a rule over the bodies only, not the hearts and minds, not the souls or spirits. So the offer was in fact a hollow one. The Devil can say he has been given authority because it is mankind that has given it to him.

Once again Jesus rebuffs the temptation by quoting scripture,
"It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’"

What do we say when the Devil takes us to a high place in our minds eye and shows us all the different areas of our lives - our work, our relationships, our finances, our leisure, our writing, our health - and says I will make you master (in a non gender-specific sense of course!) of all these areas, if you turn your back on Jesus and live for yourself. That is what it means to worship the Devil - to take God off the throne and to put yourself on it.

There are no short-cuts in following Jesus. We gain a full rich life, an eternal life, when we surrender it to Jesus. I for one would rather have Jesus with authority over my life than to make a complete mess of it myself!

HP Blogfest - Just the Three of Us

Michael over at In Time ... is hosting a Blogfest today in which we have to say which two students would be our best friends at Hogwarts, and what our friendship would belike - all in no more than 350 words. Mine is exactly 350 words, and my friends were at Hogwarts, just a few years earlier than our intrepid trio! Well I am getting on a bit you know!

Being that bit older, my best friends at Hogwarts were Arthur Weasley and Molly Prewett. We were friends from the moment Molly grabbed the two us and shoved us into one of the boats waiting to take us to Hogwarts for the very first time. She told us then that we had to stick together, so we did. She was a bit scary when you are aged eleven. I think it was the fact that we were the three red-heads in the year, and that there was safety in numbers.
Arthur and I shared a love of muggle things. It was a dream come true when we found that we shared a dormitory with two muggle-borns. There was much swapping of muggle gadgets for charmed knick-knacks. Our friendship was not based on misdemeanours, but on a delight in the ordinary; that and doing whatever Molly said. I think the nearest muggle equivalent would be nerds. Or geeks. I’m not sure actually.
I’m afraid Arthur and I were not academic high fliers. We sat at the back with our secret parchment notebooks, trying to devise muggle artifacts. The notebooks were our own invention actually; sheets of parchment bound together at the top. We had tried to transfigure millipedes into a form of binding for the top, but we could never quite get it right. The binding had a habit of trying to drag our notebooks into dark corners, or would eat half a page overnight. Molly told us that we were cheating and we ought to do it without any magic, which was sort of obvious when we thought about it.
We were in the wizarding chess club together. When I say we, I mean Arthur and I; Molly left us to it and went off and organised someone else for the evening. Arthur always beat me I have to say, or nearly always. Our finest hour was battling it out in our final year at the final of the wizarding chess tournament. I won, but only because Molly had just told Arthur that they were going to elope! Happy days.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

The Truth Will Out

*** Stop Press ***
Trapeze Magazine has published my Haiku today at Trapeze
This is my first official publication :)
*** ends ***

Well, I promised to tell the truth today ... so here goes.

1) Katherine de Mattos was married to William Sydney de Mattos who is my first cousin three times removed (that means that there is three generations between us). I remember the stir when we had to study Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at school and everyone found the dedication to Katherine de Mattos in the front of their text books. Alas, Robert Louis Stevenson is not a direct antecedent, so I can't claim his writerly blood flowing in my veins!

2) After a bit of additional research I have discovered that my great great great grandfather was born in Portugal and moved to Montevideo in Uruguay (not Brazil) on 27th November 1807 in the entourage of the Portuguese royal family. He returned to Europe where he met and married Gertze Elizabeth Brunze, a Dutch woman very recently widowed from a German known only to us as Herr Muller. My great great grandfather George William de Mattos was born in The Hague and served for a time in the Dutch army. By 1845 he was living in Wandsworth where he married Eliza Coomber.

3) My cousin really was editor of The Financial Times. I didn't give lots of information - after all he is still with us!

4) Edward Alexander Frderick Theodore de Mattos was in fact my great great great uncle who lived in Tunbridge Wells, just down the road from here. His son Joseph Hilbert de Mattos was indeed owner of the Eddison Steam Roller company. However at some stage he changed his name to Jack Hamilton and married Alice Blood. Possibly best to leave that there!

So the lie was my fictional great great uncle, and his imaginary role on the Clifton Suspension bridge. As a civil engineer, Brunel is something of an icon - so what better mentor for my supposed relative? I probably should have added an extra great but my real great great aunt was born in 1840 and my real great great great grandfather was born in 1815, so 1831 was somewhere imbetween!

Just as a little bit of fun Elena at You're Write. Except when you're Rong.
is hosting a mad-lib (actually it was yesterday, but I'm fashionably late!)
Here is my effort (with the blanks filed in bold):

Dear Anonymous Commenter,

I'm so happy that you've chosen to follow me, sort of, and while I appreciate your extreme dedication, please note that this is a writing blog, and I have to say your bleating is quite disturbing.

Not that I have anything against lambs per se or snowy whiteness in general.

I love all my followers.

I just don't think that your obsessive stalking is appropriate here. But I really do wish you the best with your gambolling and other things that normal lambs do. I know a lot of people who have had success with ovine groupies, but frankly I'm freaking out here.

Thanks again for your comment, and please come
by again. Just not with your insufferable cuteness.



Friday, 18 March 2011

Book Blurb Friday

The lovely Lisa at Writing in the Buff hosts Book Blurb Friday. Each week Lisa posts a pretend book cover to fire our imaginations. Our task is to write the book blurb for the back cover in 150 words or less.

Reality Check

Wherever disaster strikes, Ethan Parr is sure to follow.

If he can be found at all, it will be at in the midst of crises that obliterate cities, destroy dynasties and reshape continents – the sort of catastrophes that no-one notices.

When a reality-quake hits, everything changes; people and places vanish, a new reality forms from the fractured remains, and no-one remembers anything different. No-one except Ethan Parr.

As Ethan searches the shattered realities for a woman with alabaster skin and tumbling auburn hair, and a little girl with piercing green eyes, he begins to see a pattern in the reality-quakes.

Who is manipulating the quakes? Could they hold the key to finding the woman and the girl? Would they know why he is so desperate to find them?

As the quakes grow worse, Ethan must choose between discovering his past and saving reality.

143 words.

This is a great writing exercise and if you haven't tried it yet, why not join in?
Not only is it wonderful practice at letting a plot blossom from a single seed, but it is also extremely valuable practice at distilling that plot down to an enticing morsel on the end of big hook!

Thursday, 17 March 2011


Thank you so much Lynn at Present Letters for giving me this lovely award

Now the rules are to list 4 truths and 1 lie. I will reveal which is the lie on Saturday.

So, some weird and wonderful things about my family ...

1) One of my ancestors, Katherine de Mattos was Robert Louis Stephenson's cousin (and rumoured lover). She was also an author writing under the pseudonym of Theodor Hertz-Garten. Robert Louis Stephenson dedicated Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde to her and included in the dedication a part of a longer poem he had written to her,

It's ill to loose the bands that God decreed to bind;
Still we will be the children of the heather and the wind.
Far away from home, O it's still for you and me
That the broom is blowing bonnie in the north countrie

2) My great great uncle was born in 1831 - the same year that Isambard Kingdom Brunel started building the Clifton Bridge (aged 24 unbelievably). Work stopped on the bridge in 1843 because of financial and political problems. Brunel went onto other projects and my GG Uncle started to work for him in 1852 When Brunel died in 1859, my GG uncle was appointed as project manager to complete the construction of the Clifton Suspension bridge as a memorial to Brunel. The bridge was opened in 1864. I guess the Civil Engineering genes came from somewhere!

3) I have already told you about my great great great great grand father who was a Portuguese count who left Portugal during the Peninsula War in the king's retinue to travel to South America (and given the number of de Mattos in Brazil, I'm guessing they went there!)

4) My first cousin was editor of the Financial Times, London for a time and was listed in the top 50 most influential people in the world

5) Another of my relatives Edward AFT de Mattos once owned the Great Eastern Steamship Company (not sure when exactly, but he died in 1835 according to the grave I found in a local cemetery). He bought the Eddison Steamroller company for his son Joseph Hilbert to run, although according to a book charting the history of the company, he was a little more interested in the horses!

So I am going to offer this lovely award to Jenn at You know .. that Blog because Jenn runs the awesome Sensational Haiku Wednesday which is just so much fun.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Haiku Wednesday Integrity

Sensational Haiku Wednesday

Join the fun!
You know ... that Blog?

Today's topic is Integrity

A thought for the day: Integrity means not being swayed by the world around you ... but can you keep your integrity if you do not engage with it?

Siren call of temptation
Falling on deaf ears

Own up or cover up?
Guilt and fear corrode the soul
The truth brings freedom

Vengeance for the wronged
Compassion for the sinner
Where is the right path?

Monday, 14 March 2011

Star Blogger

The last two weeks have been particularly busy for me, so I have not been visiting blogs very much lately. However I wanted to thank some wonderful friends for give me a couple of awards. But first I want to announce a new award. The problem with the awards that require recipients to pass it on to 7 or 15 people is that if everyone did we'd each be receiving hundreds every week within a month! So instead of passing my awards on, this is an award for just ONE star blogger.

Here are the "rules"

1) Link back to the person who gave you the award and share something about them.
2) Nominate a new recipient and tell them how special their blog is to have been singled out for this exclusive award
3) Share ONE thing that makes you laugh, ONE favourite thing and ONE place you would like to visit

So the very first recipient of this award is .... Madeleine at Scribble and Edit

Madeleine's blog is always a pleasure to visit. Her posts are creative and entertaining, with great graphics and well laid out. Blogging is all about give and take and Madeleine puts so much energy into other people's blogs.  That is why Madeleine is the first Star Blogger.

Now, onto my awards :)

Thanks to Zan Marie and Sully Thanks to Deborah Walker, Jys and Zan Marie

So all I have to do now is reveal 7 things about myself:

1) I bought our first house before my wife had a chance to see it. It was a wreck and took us a year to make it habitable. I think she forgave me!

2) I used to play the flute, until I sat on it.

3) My favourite colour is red

4) My great great great grandfather was the son of the dutch widow of a german, who was then adopted by her second husband Alexander de Mattos, whose father, a Portuguese count, fled to South America during the Peninsular War

5) As a (young) teenager I was hugely excited to see Mars hanging large and red low in the evening sky ... until my Mum told me is was just a "harvest moon". Ah well.

6) I have been singing in a church choir since I was nine (with a six year gap in teenage years). Twenty five years of which have been in the same church.

7) I started making cakes when I was seven. Whilst making my very first cake I managed to "fold" the mixture onto the floor. Oh well - I spooned it back into the bowl, no harm done!

Engineering for Writers will be back next week, when life is a little less hectic!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Sunday Reflection

Today is the first Sunday in Lent, a period of self examination, repentance and preparation for the great celebration of Easter. It is traditionally a period of self denial - hence the idea of "giving something up for Lent". The 40 days of lent mirror the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness at the very start of his ministry. (Luke 4)

He went without food for 40 days, itself something of a miracle. I once heard someone say that we can live for three minutes without air, three days without water and three weeks without food, and although there are plenty of examples of endurance well beyond these limits, it gives an idea that 40 days of fasting is an extraordinary feat. At the end of the forty days the bible tells us that "Jesus was hungry". I'll bet he was! So came the first temptation - to turn the stones into bread.

It seems very reasonable (apart from being miraculous of course) - why not call on God to meet a very real and urgent need? The key here is in the way the temptation was framed. "if you are the Son of God ..." This was not just about a temptation to eat - it was also about the temptation for Jesus to prove himself. Would pride lead to Jesus disobeying God's command to fast? How great must the temptation have been, with ravenous hunger gnawing at his belly and at his mind. Jesus conquered the temptation by quoting scripture. "Man shall not live by bread alone, [but by every word that comes from the mouth of God]." (Deut. 8:3)

There is a lesson here for us all. When our service to God stops being about him, or about our neighbours, and starts being about us, that's when we know we are walking the path of pride. When a public display of faith is about the display not the faith, we have been turning stones to bread. This is where we, like Jesus, need to be rooted in the Word of God. Through prayerful study of the bible, the Holy Spirit can equip us to understand the true nature of the temptations that seek to veer us off the narrow way.

As there are plenty of weeks in Lent, I will look at the other temptations in the weeks to come.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Book Blurb Friday 11 March

The lovely Lisa at Writing in the Buff hosts Book Blurb Friday. Each week Lisa posts a pretend book cover to fire our imaginations. Our task is to write the book blurb for the back cover in 150 words or less.


Mankind’s first encounter with alien intelligent lifeforms, on the planet Silva in the Callyan system, was a disaster. The Dryads, who manifest as bright coruscations in the trees, had appeared benign at first, but then, without warning, turned against the First Contact’s crew. Only three survived.

Now Captain Lori Peterson and a team of handpicked experts have been sent to Silva to investigate and make peace with the Dryads. After a promising start, they are on a reconnaissance flight to find the original base, when their craft unaccountably crashes.

Miraculously the crew survive, but not without cutting a swathe of destruction through the trees. When her engineer finds evidence of sabotage, Lori realises she must face the anger of the Dryads with a traitor at her back. Her only hope of survival is to reach the First Contact base, but someone doesn’t want it found.

Only just under the limit at 145 words.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Haiku Wednesday Hope

Sensational Haiku Wednesday

Join the fun!
You know ... that Blog?

Today's topic is Hope

It has been a bit of a full day, so I'm afraid you are not going to get your usual three haiku today. I have been out tonight at our team Ash Wednesday service ... which leads me on to this weeks subject ...

Lent for reflection
Deep sorrow at falling short
lost in Easter joy

I will return tomorrow with some thoughts about Lent

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Engineering for Writers #3

Today we are going to be thinking about force and pressure.

Every so often I come across a writer who uses one when they mean the other, so I thought I would do the writing world a favour and explain the difference.

Force is a measure of how much you push something, or how much you bear down on the ground, or the turning effect of a car engine on the wheels. We feel the force of the wind as it's gusts make us stagger, or as it sends a boat creaming through the water. We talk about being forced to do something if we are compelled to do it when we would not otherwise have done so.

Pressure is a measure of how much that force is spread out. The smaller the area over which the force acts, the greater the pressure. The force of the wind spread out over the area of a sail creates a pressure that can be seen in the way that the sail billows, but it is the force that drives the boat along.

Here's an interesting fact. When your kick-ass heroine stomps on the foot of the goon holding her with her size 5 stilettos, she is exerting more pressure than the articulated lorry that is concurrently running over the foot of the goon's side-kick. For proof the lorry weighs 1200 times as much as your delectable MC, but the lorry's weight is spread over 12 tyres, each tyre making contact with the ground over an area 800 times the size of a stiletto. So in total 1200 times the weight spread over 9600 times the area, meaning the stiletto exerts 8 times the pressure. If you didn't follow that, don't worry. Just remember to make your goon's eyes water.

A politician is forced to resign due to intense media pressure. There is a force applied by the media spread over a period of time (rather than area, as we talked about before)

So a force is an active, doing word that has results (which might be action or it might be a bruised toe). Pressure is a more passive word which describes how the force acts. You are knocked over by the force of a wave, not by it's pressure.

So on to today's MYTHBUSTER

Weight is also a force. It is a measure of how much we press down upon the earth. When we stand on our bathroom scales they measure our weight, yes, but the reading it gives us is NOT our weight. Bathroom scales read in lbs or kg which are units of MASS not WEIGHT. All the while we are running around on the face of the earth, this little deception doesn't really matter. However if you took your bathroom scales to the moon, instead of your usual 120lbs (55kg) of mass, it would tell you that your mass had reduced to 20lbs (8.5kg). As the only way of losing mass is a diet or having bits chopped off, such a loss of mass would be catastrophic. Correctly your scales, back in your bathroom, should tell you that you weigh 120lbf (pounds force being a measure of, you guessed it, force) or 550N (Newtons - 10 newtons is the force exerted by 1kg of mass in standard earth gravity). Technically, when you overindulge at Christmas you put on mass, but if you tell your work colleagues that you put on a little mass at Christmas, they'll think you've gone all religious!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Microfiction Monday 7 March

Welcome to another round of Microfiction Monday courtesy of Susan at Stony River. Each week Susan posts a new picture and invites us to write a story in 140 characters or less.

Today's picture:

I am sure that at least one of these will be oft repeated!


"No wonder he looks so shifty," Maggie said. "I know gilt when I see it!"


"It's an open and shut case," said Sam Spade. "He was framed!"


A hundred years trapped in a photo, Edwin was in a hole. A very fancy hole admittedly, but still a hole.


Sunday Reflection

This week the Church of England at least is reflecting upon the Transfiguration
(Matthew 17 vs 1-9)

But did you know that Moses was also transfigured when he went up the mountain to spend time with God? The Israelites were so terrified that Moses had to cover his face so they wouldn't see it shining. (Exodus 34 vs 29-35)

This set me thinking about Moses and Jesus

Jesus is sometimes referred to as the second Moses but that doesn’t really capture the heart of the relationship between the two. I prefer to think of Jesus as the fulfilment of the promise that was in Moses.
Moses returned to Egypt after spending 40 years as a Shepherd to deliver God’s people out of slavery. Jesus said "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin……. if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Moses led God’s people through the Red Sea and there is much to be made of that in the symbolism of Baptism and re-birth. In the desert the Israelites quickly ran out of food, so Moses interceded on their behalf and God sent Manna – the bread of heaven. Jesus said "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
Later the Israelites ran out of water, so again Moses interceded. God told Moses to strike rock at Horeb with his staff and when he did so a spring appeared. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
Moses gave to God’s people the commandments written on tablets of stone. Jesus said “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another”

There are many other parallels between Moses and Jesus, and one of those is demonstrated in the two readings I linked to above. Both go up a mountain to be with God; both are transfigured by His presence. I don’t really blame the Israelites for being terrified by the sight of Moses appearing out of the cloud of God’s presence with his face shining with unearthly radiance. It is perfectly understandable that Moses should veil his face, but Paul picks up on the symbolism of this act. The veil that Moses put over his face is symbolic of the veil across the hearts of God’s people when they read the Law – a barrier to comprehension and understanding. But, Paul tells us, just as Jesus’ radiance was revealed at his transfiguration, so he removes the veil from our hearts – and we are enlightened!

Jesus came to fulfil the Law of Moses, to unveil the hearts of God’s people and to enlighten them. In the communion or Eucharist we celebrate the remembrance of the last supper when he took bread and shared it with his Disciples, saying “Take, eat; his is my body, given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” He is the bread of heaven and the true vine. And like Moses he leads us to the promised land – the Kingdom of God, which is heaven. And heaven is not some far away place with harps and fluffy clouds, somewhere up in the sky, the Kingdom of God is everywhere that Jesus is King. It is in our hearts and in our minds. It is in every act of love. It is in every act of obedience to the will of God. The Kingdom of God is here! Today is an opportunity to renew our commitment to make our lives an expression of his Kingdom – an expression of his love. For this is truth that Jesus unveiled – this is the heart of his Glory.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Book Blurb Friday 4 Mar

The lovely Lisa at Writing in the Buff launches a new meme this week. Each week Lisa will post a pretend book cover to fire our imaginations. Our task is to write the book blurb for the back cover in 150 words or less.


Kat’s obsessive nosiness meant she had no friends at school, so when she starts at college she is determined to change. She soon makes new friends and has never been happier, until she finds a mysterious keyhole plate.
She soon discovers that the keyhole lets her see through any door and allows her to be nosier than ever before. The secrets she uncovers threaten to destroy her new friendships and to draw her into a dangerous underworld of demons, soul traders and dark magic.
When she discovers her crush is in mortal danger, she must either admit to her spying and lose her chance of love or take on powers that are beyond her. Unless, of course, she can find another way ...

So there we go! My first book blurb.
A little question for you. The correct name for a keyhole plate is an escutcheon, which I originally used. I changed it, because I couldn't imagine a real book blurb using such a word! What do you think it should be?

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Haiku Wednesday Fantasy

Sensational Haiku Wednesday

Join the fun!
You know ... that Blog?

Today's topic is Fantasy

You would think, as a fantasy writer, I would jump at the chance to immerse myself in the fantasy of swords and sorcery ... but instead my thoughts have turned to today's society and real life fantasies (as opposed to fictional fantasy?).

Three fantasies ...

Seventeen years old
Seven months behind the wheel
Now invincible

Lottery ticket
One chance in ten million
Each week a new dream

Replace poverty
with our standard of living
The world has enough

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Engineering for Writers #2

Today we will be looking at ... Spans

Let's get some building terms straight.

Here is a typical roof (terms are UK of course)

The slates or tiles are nailed to battens which run from side to side and are nailed to the rafters. The rafters run from the wall plate at the bottom, to the ridge board at the top. The ridge board does not carry any weight. The rafters are supported by the purlin which spans between trusses or between gable ends.

Here is a nice example of a king post truss supporting two rows of purlins

I tell you all this in case you ever want to avoid using the generic fudge of "roof beams" to mean any bit of timber up in the roof!

Joists are "beams" which are laid horizontally to support the floor (floor joists) or ceilings (ceiling joists). I know, complicated names huh?!

The beam which supports the wall above windows or doors is called a lintel.

Here is something interesting. If you halve the width of a beam, it is half as strong and twice as bouncy. (technical term of course!). If you halve the depth of the beam it is only one quarter as strong and eight times as bouncy!

So - on to arches

The picture above shows us two things. First it helps us imagine what would happen if the keystone - the critical locking piece - is missing. You can just imagine the stones to either side simply sliding off into the river below. BUT with the keystone in place you can see how all the stones would be wedged together. What happens here is that all the vertical load you are putting onto the bridge (sorry, not making suggestions about your weight) is being translated into horizontal force at the ends of the arch. This is why you need something strong at either end to stop the arch from spreading.

We at arrive at last at this week's MYTH-BUSTER.

You remember this scene from The Fellowship of the Ring?

Gandalf is standing on the centre of the span, right on the keystone, facing down the Balrog. "You" he says. "Shall," he continues. "Not," he adds. "Pass!" With that he strikes the bridge and half of it collapses under the feet of the Balrog. Impossible! Either the whole bridge collapses or none at all. A more realistic version would be for the whole bridge to have collapsed taking both Gandalf and the Balrog into the abyss. Gandalf's final shout of "Fly you fools!" as he plummeted would have been even more poignant. It might not have made as good cinematics, but it wouldn't have made the engineer in me shake my head in despair!