The Cabinet of Curiosities – and why you should be reading it.

cabinet from Harry Potter shop

Look, I’ve been following this blog The Cabinet of Curiosities for several weeks now, and I just had to write this.

Every week, the four Curators (authors) post a story, and their imaginations and creativity will amaze. If you like children’s fiction, check it out. If you like things a bit dark, and creepy, and imaginative, and magical – check it out.

Seriously. Click the link.

My favourite stories from each of the Curators so far:

Quicksilver and the Stranger – wonderful and unusual witchy tale by Claire Legrand

Johnny Knockers – a whale tale, but so weird and strange, by Stefan Bachmann

Lucky, lucky girl – but she’s not a very nice girl!  by Katherine Catmull

Fairy Cakes – and very creepy little fairies they are, too, by Emma Trevayne

There. Cheerleading over.

Head on over to their blog and you’ll see what I’m raving about.


Scrivener – my best writing buddy

scrivenerPlotter or Pantser, sooner or later I reckon you could do with Scrivener.

Plotters plot, and Scrivener lets you plot with a Corkboard feature, which has little index cards that you drag around. Each card represents a scene or chapter or chunk of your writing, and if you move it around, that chunk of writing moves around seamlessly in your manuscript. Magical.

Pantsers ….pant(?) well, no, they don’t. Pantsers do things by the seat of their pants, like me, but that way chaos lies. Chaos is messy, much like my housekeeping skills (so I guess there’s a bit of a clue there), but you can’t live in chaos forever. Well – I can’t. And that’s where Scrivener comes in.

My messy manuscript got loaded into Scrivener a while ago, split into scenes, colour coded (yes there are many opportunities to play and procrastinate with this software), and is now more manageable and even has a structure.

I’d been using the Index card method  suggested by Alexandra Sokoloff, and it made a lot of sense – but so unwieldy!

I even took a photo of my index cards. Who’s got space for all that on their wall?

plotting using index cards

The only drawback to Scrivener so far? My computer is terminally slow, and Scrivener is quite a hungry beast, so things don’t happen nearly as quickly as I’d like them to. Plumber Husband is working on moving all our data up into the ether, so the speed problems might be sorted out. Or is that the wrong sort of memory? Tut, tut, completely clueless.

And talking of procrastination, Scrivener  can randomly generate some pretty cool names too, which is always worth a play. These are Scandinavian/Swedish.

scrivener name generator, random name generator

It’s available for Mac or PC, and like any new software, there’s a steep learning curve, but you can skip through the tutorial to find the bits you need, I don’t use all the features anyway.  The Corkboard is so easy to use,  you can just jump right in after the tutorial and start moving those scenes wherever you want.

And the best bit – there’s a free 30 day trial, which is any 30 days, so why not give it a go?  Let me know what you think of it.



Nano towel throw

It’s official. I’m throwing in the towel.

pink towel on black floor
It’s November 30th tomorrow, the final day of Nanowrimo, and my word count stands at a little over 30,000 words.
That’s a Nano fail.
I feel kind of bad about it.
I was so sure I could make it happen – I even wrote a rather boastful (in retrospect ) post about how I could handle everything family life threw at me and still make that word count.
How little did I know.
My Nano novel started out like this….

See that lovely clear path.
Straight as an arrow.
But, oh yes – up on the horizon there – see that? That’s right. A great big, tangled, old wood – all dark and forbidding.
And that’s what my nice, clear cut little Nano novel did to me – turned all dark and nasty and tangled.
I couldn’t make sense of it. Characters were rushing here and there with no clue what was going on, and speaking atrocious dialogue while they were doing it. My healthy 1,700 words a day habit was under attack. The manuscript was all CAPS LOCK, which is my way of adding a note mid- write.
Yikes. There was no write. It was all NOTE MID-WRITE.
But I ploughed on. Just slower.
I guess that’s ok.
It feels like a fail, but there are 30,000 words of a new novel sitting on my hard drive that didn’t exist a month ago.
I’m not giving up on it. I’ll probably finish by Christmas. And then I’ll hide it in a drawer until I can bear to look at it again.
Kristen Lamb has a great and inspiring post called Nanowhat now where she talks about exercising self discipline. Basically – small steps and build on it. Nanowrimo by its very nature flies in the face of that good advice. You need big steps, and lots of them, to make 50,000 words in a month.
If I learnt anything in November, it’s that I’m not ready for big steps yet. But little steps, five days a week?
That I can manage.
How about you?
Are you a Nano winner? What does that feel like? And are you happy with what you’ve written?



Sorry, can’t cook tonight, the dog ate my wooden spoon……oh, and I’ve just murdered your flask.

Family life this week….

Firstly, I killed a flask.

These are the beautiful little remains – kind of like the bottom of my Christmas bauble box (no matter how well I wrap the little suckers up!)

broken flask, broken vacuum flask

It’s not the first time I’ve murdered a flask, but it’s usually by sloppy flask-care, dropping it from a height and such. This one I killed by over cleaning, thereby proving the point that there IS such a thing as TOO MUCH CLEANING, and a flask exploding in your kitchen first thing in the morning like a firecracker could be the result.

And when I say over cleaning, I wasn’t even being particularly vigorous, just pushed the long handled brush in there a couple of times and …..BANG!… dead flask.

shattered flask

It later transpired that the BANG! and my scream of surprise was heard by Plumber Husband and both daughters.  Eldest and Youngest daughter assumed that since I was still standing there in the kitchen, (albeit in shock), that I was okay and no further action was required. Plumber Husband assumed that since I hadn’t called for help, I didn’t need any.

Me: “And what if I’d just been electrocuted or something?” 

Plumber Husband: “That’s okay – You’d finished my sandwiches.”

No flask of tea that day, though, MWAH HA HA!



Later on, and not to be outdone, our Bertie killed a wooden spoon.

This was a special spoon: seeped in juicy Jalfrezi sauce from our evening curry; not too hot; still a little meaty; and given to him while I was out doing my taxi driving stint. When I returned from dropping the non-paying customers at one of their many activities….this was what I found.

wooden spoon chewed up by dog He even brought it up to me.

Like a stick.

Which he doesn’t get.

Because I know how dangerous it is to give dogs sticks.

And so I had to watch him like a hawk to make sure he wasn’t sick, and the next day too.

He’s fine BTW.

black cocker spaniel, english cocker spanielAnd despite these little upsets, and the piles of laundry backed up from our week away in London, and the back log of paperwork etc etc etc…..despite all this – I’m still on target with my Nanowrimo novel. Thus proving to me that:

a)      I can make time for writing.

b)      I can make time for writing – even if family life throws a few crises my way

c)      Too much cleaning is not good for you – and might end up backfiring in your kitchen first thing in the morning!

What about you? How do you find juggling family life with writing?



Sadly, I’ve had to disable comments on this post. The spammers LOVE it! Those guys! Louis Vuitton, Raybans,those guys love me! Hope I’m not forgetting anyone!

Confessions of a NaNoWriMo Rebel

NaNoWriMo starts in 3 days, so strictly speaking, no one should have started their novel – and yet………

Nanowrimo rebellion

I’m a first time NaNoWriMo-er, and I really, REALLY want to succeed. But the first 4 days of November are family time – it’s half term here – and so the seeds of rebellion were sown….

I did 4 days writing last week.

And on the 1st November, those wordcounts are going up on the website to count towards my total.

In some ways this is WRONG WRONG WRONG, and some might even say…shhh…’s cheating.

But then I came across Margo Berendsen’s blog post saying she was going to bend the rules too – and not only that, there’s a whole load of us NaNoWriMo Rebels out there, with our very own forum. Yay!

The only prize with NaNoWriMo is knowing you have written a novel in 30 days. I don’t really care if 4 of those days were actually in October. I hope you don’t either.

Anyone else doing NaNoWriMo? Anyone else planning on joining the Rebellion?