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So there I was braless in my front yard minding my own business killing things—black widows—with my deadly saber weapon—broomstick—when all of a sudden a Mexican man in a pick-up truck pulled up and got out and approached me, braless me, and began waving his arms and speaking a mix of English and Spanish—Spanglish.

And this is what I saw/heard. You … pear … (hand mimes what looks like a round shape, not hourglass but round, I tell you) … no good … too big.

Perceptive as he may be regarding my body shape, insulting a woman holding a deadly weapon is not a bright person. I may have poked him with my sword (it’s a sword now) had I not been so busy pondering his reasons for needing to bring it to my attention. Possibly he thought I was blind and was doing me a favor. Ah, thanks. Good to know. I’ll get right on it. Or, he’s from PETS (people for ethical treatment of spiders) and was trying to dissuade me from further massacre. Or, simply a community service message.

Then, as I was about to bring down my iron hot poker upon his head, it occurred to me he was offering to trim my Bradford Pear tree. He cruised the neighborhoods looking for folks outside and would stop to offer his services. He almost died for trying.

You said I'm a what?

If this post has a familiar ring it’s because I kind of do this kind of thing a lot, you know, adding fantastical elements to a very dull happening, and way outside the realm of logic and reason. You’d think I’d learned my lesson since my last publicly-admitted blunder in Believable Characters  (notice I say “publicly admitted. Imagine what I keep private).

If I read the above scene in a book—sans the part where she comes to her senses—I’d say, “Bah.” So why, why, why, did I believe it could happen in real life? (because it’s happening to me, that’s why)

Moral of today’s story: Keep it real, baby. Keep it real. (unless you’re writing fantasy, then you can do that.)

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I once read in a magazine a tip from an author on successful writing. All I remember of her tips is this: Dress for success. Dress like you care. 

I serious

She went on to say she had been writing in her sweats and jammies, not even brushing her hair, looking like something the cat dragged in (so?). Then a friend suggested she clean herself up and take her job seriously and it would reflect in her writing. She did and her writing improved along with her self-esteem.

Okay, I said to me, I’ll put it to the test. I took a shower, blow-dried my hair—styled it, even—painted my nails, wore slacks and a blouse—bra included—and a pair of low-heeled shoes.

I’ll be the first to attest that this “friend’s” advice is a load of BS. Not only did all that cut into my writing time, but I was extremely uncomfortable, hyper-focusing on my bra and shoes and not on writing. The wispy feather-strands of my hair were tickling my face, my arms were restricted in the long sleeves of my blouse, my slacks were digging into my gut, and the smell of nail lacquer was making me sick.

This friend was no friend, and this author was crazy. I mean, who does that???? (If you do, confess right here. I won’t bite. To each his/her own, right? Whatever works for you is cool with me. Nothing wrong with that. *OTHER THAN IT’S WRONG!! *the author of this post is kidding and is not passing judgment on your writing attire.)

So head on over to wordsxo, where you’ll find me, trendsetter that I am, exposed in my professional writing garb.  There, you’ll be treated to what not to wear when writing. Since she’ll be asking you what’s the most bizarre outfit you’ve ever written in, I’ll conclude by asking something more personal: What are you wearing right now? (sounds kinky)

Also, you’ll notice that Milli (check out her blog on pjs) refers to my old Twitter name of IQOkie. It is now under my regular name of Tricia_Sutton. She is aware of it but in denial. She loves the old name and followed me because of it. I side with Milli, but I took advice from a social media expert (much like the “friend” mentioned above) and changed it to my name. Tell me, should I change it back or keep my name?

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Someone (Kasie) from my writing group compares her novel to the movie Sliding Doors. I’d never seen this movie until yesterday and only caught the last hour. I loved the movie and can’t wait to watch it someday in its entirety. But here is my favorite part: A guy meets his friend in a pub and declares excitedly, “I finished it!” His friend says, “Your book?” and the guy says, “No. I’m a novelist, it’ll never be finished.” (I’m paraphrasing here since I didn’t know at the time I’d be quoting this wise and true statement). Now I have the perfect comeback for such presumptions and can’t wait for someone to assume I’ve finished my book so I can say that.  

So this person (Kasie) from my group of four members has not only finished her book and can readily admit it, but just sold her book to a publisher. Or rather her agent did. In this day of dismal statistics for debut writers, this news is inspiring. It gives me hope that there are still agents willing to take on newbies and still publishing houses willing to publish them. Check out Kasie\’s blog where she will share the query that landed her the agent who signed her. She is not only an awesome query writer, she is also an awesome writer, writer buddy, critiquer, and all things writing and not writing.

Yay for Kasie.

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I was going to go about my day of blog posting in my usual self-depreciating manner. Let’s face it, I love messing with myself, and I give myself plenty of material with which to do so. But I just finished reading Judy Clement Wall’s post about being kind to yourself. She says amazing things on her blog, and today’s message hit home. “Truthfully, I’m amazed at how hard we are on ourselves, how quick we are to criticize, undermine, belittle and doubt. If we spoke to our friends the way we so willingly speak to ourselves, we’d be friendless.”

Wow. How true. I mean how many of you would return to my blog if I called you an unfocused flake? How about a freak? Does “loser” hurt your feelings? I call myself all of these things, and more. But not today. So instead of the post I was going to do about my hair and how ugly it is since I had it chopped to pieces, and how it looks like original daughter Becky from Roseanne who, in her last season, cut her hair so severe the ratings plummeted and they had to get themselves a new, prettier Becky for the remaining seasons (I don’t know the real reason, but come on, look at the hair), I will instead share with you what I did right. My floor.

Below are pictures of my finished concrete floor. There are no before pictures, but picture a stained, ratty carpet the color of oatmeal.

I love my floor. I love even more that I did it. And that the total cost of the project was $75.00 (not including another $75.00 for new baseboards because I managed to ruin the old ones—oops). Now, of course, I want the whole house done this way. I just don’t want to be the one to do it. It took a month for just one room. A month of neglected writing. So back to writing.

Another achievement I’d like to share is a story that is up at Slow Trains. It was my first attempt at non-humor (not my first non-humor published. I had written a couple after this one that went before it). It’s about a mistake in judgment and the very anti-thesis of Judy’s message. I’m not sure which I recommend first: reading about a pair down on themselves then getting rejuvenated by Judy, or filling up on love first to withstand the dismal dread of those who think they are unworthy. I wrote this 13 months ago, and I think I was PMSing—oops, there goes that self-back talk again. What I mean is I really like this story and I think it ends with a powerful message that everyone can benefit from, and I’m proud of myself for writing it and encouraged and validated that Slow Trains published it. Yay me.

What can you share that is wonderful about yourself or that you accomplished lately that you are proud of? Don’t forget to go to Judy’s blog at Zebra Sounds and do the assignment she asks of you. I know I will.

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April Fool’s day is my book’s 4th birthday.

I is four

My book turning four is not a happy event, just so you know. It’s just one more reminder of unfinished business. That hasn’t stopped me in the past, querying, that is. I made a vow every year to be finished, like in ready to query finished, by April 1st. On birthday number two, I queried two agents. Birthday number three, I thought I was ready and queried three agents. You see a pattern here? But I won’t. I will not query four agents today just because I made a silly vow once. Wait. I won’t promise that. I don’t trust myself. Maybe I’ll send just one.

I have a beta reader I’m handing this to tomorrow, and I’m hanging back to see what edits or changes she suggests. I would kick myself later if I queried and sent a sample chapter that needed work. So no, I will not send out a query today. I won’t. I might.

On other news, I received Golden Visions magazine in the mail yesterday with my story Male Pattern Deadness published in it. It’s a serious piece; a psychological thriller, if you will. Also, forthcoming in Slow Trains, I wrote another serious piece—am I losing my sense of humor?

I don’t have a link to Male Pattern Deadness yet, as it’s only in their print edition, It may end up in my unlinkable page above. But the exciting thing is my story is right in the middle where the magazine staple goes. So the magazine wants to naturally open there. People picking up the magazine will be FORCED to see my story—muhahahaha.

To prove I still have my humor about me, I have a flash piece up at Fear of Writing called Mango Man. Fear of Writing has a list of prompts you can choose from should you want to write for them.

Last and most important is Linda Cassidy Lewis, my friend and member of my in-person writing group, has her debut book, Brevity of Roses, up for sale today. She is the first in my group to publish a book, so this is all very exciting, it’s also very sudden, and I haven’t had a chance to post reviews of it on Amazon or Goodreads yet, but will shortly. For now, just trust me that this is beautifully written work and I encourage you to read it. I command it.

Though none of the above is an April Fool’s joke—nor is the mention that I just forgot how to spell “above” and tried five different spellings before I gave up and asked the computer how to spell it—do any of you participate in this silly tradition? Did someone pull any tricks on you today? I’m alone right now. The day is still young. For me, it’s pending. When my eleven year old gets home, I’ll be in for it.

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When good intentions backfire, sometimes it leaves you a smidge paranoid the next time around.

During my first marriage a long time ago in another chapter of another book of my life, I lived in a triplex. A couple and their baby moved in the apartment above us, and they befriended us instantly.

The husband was well spoken; his posture and mannerisms screamed “Prep School Grad”. She was … well … not. She was clearly born on the opposite side of the tracks from him, and she didn’t even possess all of her teeth. She had a tendency to misspeak, and to dress and behave inappropriately—like wear revealing clothing and brushing up against my husband.

This couple was so mismatched, we speculated that perhaps he married her because he got her pregnant. We later learned we were right. But that part didn’t matter. Their history was irrelevant in the here and now. They were friendly and personable and liked us. Since I assume no one will like me before they even meet me, when they do show fondness towards me, it comes as a surprise and shock and they’d have to do something terrible for me not to reciprocate.   

Soon, however, we began to sense something amiss. The four of us were slowly evolving to just the three of us. We were seeing less of the husband. I felt as if he were in the role of someone hired to find a home for a stray and her litter. His job was done.

Her neediness made us pause. She didn’t work and would latch onto anyone who was home during the day. My husband had weekends off; I had Sunday and Monday. Her husband was gone every day. What he did every day remains a mystery. So she unwittingly became ours, invaded our lives. Every time I turned around, she was there. She was always asking for something, and we were always giving it to her. Either that or she’d help herself to whatever we weren’t offering.

She’d call my husband and ask for assistance in moving furniture around or for minor repairs. She’d flirt a little or a lot, he’d tell me later. Later we would find out she was only sixteen and a high school dropout. Her husband, twenty-three and a university graduate. We would also find out later they were both con artists. Her job title was Statutory Rape Blackmail. His was Lawsuits.

They didn’t just wait for opportunity to knock, either. They made it happen. And we learned of it before they had a chance to strike. We were their next target; our only crime was in our good intentions. And they weren’t happy to know we were on to them. They made out lives miserable for a while.

Even while all this was happening, I was writing the story in my head, filling in the blanks. My novel (the one I haven’t written yet) will someday reveal the mystery of their pairing, his and her upbringings, and all the whys of it, the wheres, and the what happened next.

Then I made a mental movie of it. I can’t put you into my head so let’s use Pacific Heights‘ yuppie horror film tagline: “It seemed like the perfect house. He seemed like the perfect tenant. Until they asked him to leave.”

Mine will be like this: “She likes anyone who likes her. He will help anyone who asks. They meet the couple. They seemed like perfect friends. Until they weren’t.”

Being the imaginative person that I am, I, coincidently, use the same actors. The con husband sort of looked like Michael Keaton, and my husband sort of looked like Matthew Modine. Melanie Griffith looked more like the slut in my story, so I assigned her that role. Angelina Jolie will play me of course. (stop laughing.) I might have a hard time erasing years off their looks enough to play sixteen to twenty-three-year-olds—details I’m still working out..

That was one of my more vivid memories of good-deed-gone-bad. There have been other times my good intentions backfired. But each time now that I perform a neighborly service, do a good deed, or befriend a new person, my suspicious mind triggers a story, an outcome with tragic consequences. I can’t help it; it just happens.

A few years ago, I found myself watering an Australian tree fern at a vacant, foreclosed house in my neighborhood. I was paranoid each time I crossed the grass and turned on the hose that somehow the house became occupied overnight and I would be arrested for trespassing or shot. My mind works that way. And I wrote a story about it titled Tree Hugger, published at The Earth Comes First.

Do you have any tales of good deeds gone wrong?

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Because real emails occasionally end up in my spam box, I have to do a visual scan before I delete. I hate to do it, look that is. Sure it makes me feel better about myself as a writer, seeing all the poorly written ads, but that’s like listening to a dog bark and feeling better about my singing. But rather than complain about their writing, I’m willing to help them write better. For $206.34 per SCAM I AM course. In USD only. (recommend taking all 40 courses for a discounted rate of only $8,000.00[Eight Thousand US Dollars])

Who needs this course? Well, YOU who have tense issues, grammar issues, missing or too many word issues, and YOU Gertrude Cowan who spammed me this: Your mating can be indefatigable‎ … (?)

… and YOU: I have learned the real truth behind my inheritince. I am Mrs Helen Moore, a devoted Christian. I have chosen you for an inheritince. Please contackt me for more details. Bank Draft of  $1,000.000.00 USD (One Million US Dollars), but I did not hear from you since that time (what time?). Then I went and deposited the Draft with FEDEX COURIER SERVICE (you’d better watch your all caps now, miss devoted Christian Helen Moore), West Africa, I  traveled out of the country for a 3Months Course and I will not come back till end of March, 2011.What you have to do now is to contact the FEDEX COURIER SERVICE as soon as possible to know when they will deliver your  package to you because of the expiring date. For your information, I have paid for the security keeping fee, Insurance premium and Clearance  Certificate Fee of the Cheque showing that it is not a Drug Money in your Country. The only money you will need send to the FEDEX COURIER CHARGES to (zzzzzz) deliver your Draft direct to your postal Address in your country is ($200US)Dollars only being PACKAGE DELIVERY CHARGES of the Courier Company so far. I would have paid that but they said no because they don’t know when youwill contact  them and in case of demurrage (some grammar mistakes are forgiven for using a big word) You have to contact the FEDEXCOURIER SERVICE now for the delivery of your  Draft with this informationbelow: Send Them The Require Information Below: Greetings (Okay, You. You are wordy and repetitive. Get straight to the point. e.g., “Send 200 bucks to me, Mrs Helen Moore, a devoted Christian, to cover a bunch of invisible charges, after which I give you, a stranger, a million dollars because I am a devoted Christian.” Additionally you suffer grammar mistakes and all around bad writing, all of which I’ll teach you how to avoid as well as where to put the word “Greetings” in your letter.)

…and YOU: I NEED JUST YOUR CO-OPERATIONS (nothing like all caps to accentuate bad writing).I am Mr MARK GENERAL, Director Allocation department of SKY BANK NIGERIA PLC, LAGOS/NIGERIA. (Nigeria? Didn’t you get the memo? We aren’t using Nigeria anymore. But for $206.34 USD I’ll give you a list of all the believable countries in which the “naïve” will send their money)

… and YOU: I have decided to remit your claim sum following my idea that we can have a deal/agreement and I am going to do this legally.

My conditions:

1. The sum of USD$15.7M only will be transfer into your account after the processing of all relevant legal documents with your name as the sole beneficiary. The transfer will be made by Draft or telegraphic Transfer T/T Conformable in 3working days.

2. This deal must be kept secret (oops) forever and all correspondence will be strictly by email / telephone for security purposes.

3. There should be no third parties as most problems associated with your fund release are caused by your agents or representative. (right, this happens a lot)

…and especially YOU: Bacheolrs, Matsers, , PhD can be yours in 4 weeks if you qualify. I always wanted a “Matsers” of Fine Arts degree. And in 4 weeks!

 

Yes, it’s true. My 40-course series will teach you how to scam/spam the proper way. No more looking stupid whilst thieving. I’ll teach you how to hook, reel, and take their money in a better written way.

BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE

Also included is a free course on subject lines and how to attract without falling flat. This course is for the same YOUs spotlighted in the earlier examples.

Like YOU miss Tennille West E n l a r g e ment (interesting use of font sizes to make your point) is what you need now.‎ what I need is shrinkage. Nobody ever has offers for shrinkage

 Friend – I am compiled to solit for your humble acceptance … I’ve compiled your typos, humbly, of course

British High Commission – SCAM ALERT 50000000 Euro to you if … Wait do I see scam alert right in the subject line?

Mr. Patrick Williams.5.m For Your Past Effort,‎ – Hello my friend, Please accept my apology for not contacting you earlier before now  (pick just one, please)  

Jonathan GrayINVESTMENT OFFER !!‎ (all caps and two exclamation points. What are you trying to say?)- Pardon my invading your privacy (too late). I am Barr. Jonathan Gray (Managing Partner) Barrister, advocate

Pharmafast – Gorgeous selection of Viagra gorgeous you say? Why, let me get my credit card to order one in each color.

YOU, this offer is too good to pass up.

BUT WAIT. THERE’S STILL MORE:

I’ll throw in a course called Bait and Switch yours free if you order now.

Terms and conditions may apply. No money back guarantee. No guarantee you’ll be a gooder writer. No guarantees you’ll learn how to spell garanteey. No guarantees on nothin’. Extra fees and charges may apply.

Hurry while courses last. Operators are standing by.

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Yesterday I encouraged you to read my guest post at Fear of Writing. In that post I admit my short story publications are, in a way, a distraction from finishing the darn novel. I vowed to stop letting publication get in the way of publication. And I will. Right after this one at Orion Headless. (It went up yesterday but felt sheepish to admit it on the same day that people might actually take me serious. pfft)

In my defense, I still have some stories on submission. So there.

This story was originally accepted by a paying anthology. But when I read the contract it looked like it would be published in the later part of 2012. After getting advice from a publishing expert, I had to withdraw my piece because it is part of my book and publishers (if one was looking at offering me a contract) would see it as a conflict in many, many ways. The last thing I want to do is give a publisher a reason to reject me.

So the moral of the story is:  If it’s an excerpt, pay attention to the fine print. You don’t want to lose your rights to it or, in this case, tie up the rights. But I’m glad it found it’s way to Orion. Happy Ending.

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An interview with Tooty Nolan 

  What I like about Tooty: He’s one-of-a-kind, that’s what. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to what he has to say then we can address whether or not a bronze sculpture should be made in honor of him, displayed on a raised platform, protected by a moat complete with water features such as dancing fire water and swan fountains, or he be committed.

I had to go all Elvira on this interview. My interruptions are in red.

Q: Why hamsters?

TN: Why hamsters? Well I had to come up with something vaguely analogous to human beings with which to people my world, and apes had been done to death already. They also say that you should write ‘what you know’: Well I’ve kept a few rodents in my time, and I pretty much feel that I got to know how they ticked. They are, generally speaking, nice but dim. Cavies particularly so. And to a certain extent hamsters too. Hamsters are also resourceful and relentless, and have many fine attributes – like inquisitiveness, fearlessness, a propensity to get themselves into dangerous situations, (like Richard Gere?) sharp teeth, and (in the case of the males) huge bollocks. And have you ever simulated the advances of a male hamster by stroking the back of a female? (not lately) She’s a right little tart, I can tell you. She turns ridged, her eyes bulge, her tail rises to expose her doo-dads, and she’s instantly ready for it – any time of the day or night. As a writer what more could I ask for? Nosey little bastards out looking for a quick shag, and getting themselves into all sorts of trouble while they do it. The perfect representatives for top honours on a world without humans, I do believe. Oh, and they have fingers too. Very handy those.

Q: Did Hamster-Britain evolve, or did you plan it all out first?

TN: I’m a great believer in evolution. Things – ideas and developments – must happen as they will. The only thing that I ever planned was my family’s move to Spain (which went unbelievably smoothly, I must add). But that was an aberration: Normally I just trust my instincts, rely upon nothing but a self-perceived élan, and hope for the best. All that existed of Hamster-Britain at the beginning were two hamsters – Horatio and Molly Horseblanket – waiting at a bus stop (in a story called Horatio’s Horrid Holiday, which didn’t make the cut into either of the Horatio Horseblanket Chronicles, but was reprised in The Psychic Historian). Then slowly it grew – involving more and more characters and locations – eventually moving the stories into other countries – and ultimately to alternate realities, where I could really let my imagination run riot. But no matter what happens in any of the books – they always come back to Hamster-Britain at the end. It’s the anchor that holds the series together. (Might I recommend you see Dinner with the Schmucks?)

Q: Were you sober during all this?

TN: Absolutely. I’m not tee-total, the consumption of alcohol is a rare event. I have the tastes of a child when it comes to the demon drink. (me too) It has to be sweet and bubbly. So don’t let me anywhere near a bottle of Martini Asti Spumante: I’ll get all giggly, and then go to sleep. Oh-no – to create a world with an internal logic that remains honest a writer must remain sober. And I have enough problems with short-term memory loss as it is.

Q: What is your daily routine? Do you write every day? Do you have rituals and/or quirks?

TN: My writing can be best described as sporadic. When the juices flow, so-to-speak, I can barely keep my fingers from the keypad: But getting started is another thing. Time is seldom my own, and there are always pressures to do something other than write. My wife and I both work, which means that I feel that we spend too much time apart – especially noticeable since her battle with cancer during 2007/8, so when the opportunity to be together presents itself I feel that it’s wrong to cloister myself away in the corner of the dining room, and disappear into another realm. And sometimes the thought of the sheer effort of looking at a blank screen, and then conjuring up some vivid tale is too much for me to attempt. For example – in November 2010 I put on my Clive Thunderbolt head, and finally (after years of promising myself to) I began work upon the sequel to Captive Echo. Then the build up to Christmas kind of got in the way, and after twenty-five pages I paused – not for dramatic effect, or because I didn’t know where the story was going (for once I actually had it all planned out: Not my usual style I assure you), but because I had real doubts that it was any good. With Christmas out of the way, I went back and re-wrote those twenty-five pages – at one sitting – and was quite pleased with the result. I’d proved to myself that I could write more than just rude comedy/fantasy. But having dotted the last I and crossed the last T, I put it aside once more – all interest lost in both the story and the characters. The passion to write a sci-fi-ish mystery/thriller, it seemed, didn’t burn right then. I will return to it, of course; but I can’t help thinking that there’s another Hamster-Britain story screaming to be written first.   

Q: How long have you been writing for publication?

TN: The first Horatio Horseblanket short story was written during a particularly hot spell of the Spanish summer of 2004. I wrote it because I was bored with lounging around by the pool or at the beach, (you poor thing) and I had a computer sitting there doing nothing. Previously I’d only ever written television scripts, and one of the reasons that I’d taken the (what turned into a fifteen month) sabbatical in Spain was my frustration with the British television industry, and it’s ever-changing mind. So trying my hand at ‘proper’ writing was actually quite an undertaking. The first-draft Captive Echo and Silent Apocalypse (both based upon my TV scripts) followed. I thought, “Cor, I aint too bad as this writing lark”, and duly ran off a few more Horatio Horseblanket tales before returning to the UK. Once home I continued, and I’d written the first four books before I actually tested them out upon the general public on my Windows Live blog ‘Tooty’s Purple Pencil’. Anyone remember that? The responses were great. “Why aren’t you publishing?” seemed to be the general consensus. But I wasn’t sure even then. So I began my first WordPress site (the name of which eludes me right now, but it probably had the word Tooty in it somewhere), and the public mood remained much the same. But let’s be honest – The Hamster-Britain stories aren’t really mainstream: (Tao Lin would agree) I was NEVER going to find a publisher who was willing to take a risk with it. But then someone introduced me to Lulu.com. I think it was the brilliant American horror/fantasy writer, James Viscosi. And in late 2009 I published the four books, plus my (then) newbie – The Psychic Historian – using the on-line POD format. Since then I’ve released both sci-fi books, and a further two Hamster-Britain stories using that company. Nobody will ever have a best-seller using this medium, (never say never) but it does mean that people with unusual tastes or a discerning nature, can read books that they would otherwise have been unable to – and for that I’m grateful. I just don’t understand why the incredibly cheap downloads don’t sell more.        

Q: What do you read? Favorite author? Genre?

TN: As a young man I used read all the time – including whilst visiting the toilet (guaranteed no interruptions there) – almost exclusively science fiction, but a few biographies and factual books thrown in too. But as I’ve grown older I find I have less time, so now it’s usually relegated to the occasional biography before bed (usually too tired to read), or whilst flying (David Brin’s The River of Time was my last read at Thirty-seven thousand feet). I grew up on Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, etc, and would have loved to be able to emulate any one of them. But alas I’ll never be in their class. Who is?   

Q: Coffee or tea?

TN: Tea at work. Coffee at home – out of a Philips Senseo machine. Both decaffeinated: (I suddenly don’t understand you. Did you say decaf?) Good for tinnitus apparently. Café con leche when in Spain, naturally. Not decaffeinated. (Okay, we’re on again) The rules are out the window when I’m taking it easy.

Q: Anything you wished I would have asked?

TN: Well I’d have liked to answer the question – ‘Who is your favourite character from Hamster-Britain?’- which, of course, would have been Horatio Horseblanket. Once I’d completed the thirty-something stories that make up The Horatio Horseblanket Chronicles Vols 1&2, I thought that I’d finished with him – even if he did receive a mention in The Where House. But a cameo in Fanfare for the Common Hamster was an absolute joy to write, and so he had to make appearances in both The Psychic Historian and Danglydong Dell. And he even had a chapter in Deep Threat named after him!

Also which of the HB books is my favourite? Undoubtedly The Psychic Historian (even if some people think that Deep Threat is better): Some of the stories in that are just so outrageous, even I blush. The thought of Lady Millicent Carport-Minge out jogging naked, and poking herself in the eye with her nipples…It makes me want to make a start on the next book right now. In fact I think I will!  

Thanks Tooty for entertaining visiting us today. I don’t know about anyone else, but I was in favor of the statue until we got to the last paragraph. Be still, the white coats will be at your door shortly. Cooperate. They can get mean with the straight jacket. Not that I would know.

Oh, and dear readers, in case you haven’t guessed by now, Tooty’s hamster books are not for children. I bought one for my husband (I haven’t read it yet, but will when he is finished). We don’t keep it lying around for young eyes. Although, if I really want to keep her from reading it, all I have to do is tell her she has to read it. For sure it will go ignored.

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Last post I spoke of a trip to the snow to escape the cold of Fresno. Here is a picture of my daughters with sun in their face. They are sad we have to return to fog.

Below is my typical look for winter. Four layers of clothing, a cat for good measure, and a sad face to complete the ensemble.

As the flowering trees are beginning to bud, I’ve noticed some haven’t yet lost their fall leaves.

Speaking of trees, these last two shots were taken at my daughter’s elementary school. What is odd about them?

Below is a closer look. They are all leaning in one direction except the last one. I’ve never noticed it before and she’s been a student here since kindergarten (she’s in 6th grade). When they built this school forty/fifty years ago, I imagine they planted a row of trees. Maybe the unstaked trees leaned from wind damage or who knows, other than it makes me scratch my head.

Poor thing reminds me a little of me. I always seemed to be a stand out kind of kid, and never in a good way. I’m still the odd man/woman out but this tree helped me in ways no self-help book could ever achieve. In today’s publishing market, you must stand out to get noticed. Yet, here I was, still trying to be a conformist, trying to blend in out of fear of being called out, exposed. No more. Expose me.

So here’s to looking at the glass half full; here’s to embracing my inner weirdness and harnessing its super powers of noticeability. Here’s to … oh heck. Please nobody listen to me until the fog clears. This happens every winter.  

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