I’ve learned that life will go through changes -up and down and up again. It’s what life does. (Ben Okri)
Ben Okri’s words resonate. You’re up, you’re down … such is life. Being a self-published author has definite peak and valley experiences. But, really, how could it be any other way? Self-publishing is akin to being the general contractor on a major construction job that never ends.
I write, I rewrite, edit and proofread. I format for publication and come up with cover design ideas. And after all of that, I try and promote my own work – times all that by four.
I’m not saying I don’t have help – I do my share of contracting out. From the early days of writing Disappearing in Plain Sight, I’ve had the joy to work with a fabulous editor who is willing to do conceptual and line-by-line editing. I’ve sought…
So is it back to the writing life, or back to the writing life?
The Hawkesbury Indie Author’ Pop-up Readings (etc) is only a month away, time to re-discover the Writing Hat.
Before then, at last a ‘proper’ July post: the last guest has been waved off on her journey to Scotland, and the new lodger has moved in …Through June, and on into the holiday, I was taking walks and photographs of wild things to join in with the 30 Days Wild project, (see earlier blogpost featuring the wildlife of Wick Wood in Hackney, London,
(where we saw this lovely Gatekeeper butterfly on a beech tree,) and continued to discovered a few interesting things.
One, what we had assumed were caterpillars
of the Cabbage or large white butterfly, which cover our pink berbers bush every summer, and consume the leaves, are not. They are the lava of the Berberis Saw Fly.
If you look carefully at the photos, you can see that also very similar, the beasts are distinguishable. We caught up with the caterpillars living and feeding a wild Mullen on the sandy cliffs above Sennen Beach, which they shared with several other creatures in kind of multi-occupied house arrangement. (See right, e.g., green iridescent beetle)
On the same Sennen cove cliff ramble,
a lovely Skipper butterfly was resting on bracken. Notice its really strange, big black composite eye!
Many moons (well, probably only one, but it has felt a bit like many) have also passed, it feels, since we spotted large numbers of Moon (or common) Jellyfish at the cove, on beautiful Whitesands Beach..
Pity the poor Moon Jellyfish,
and its relatives: as I read on someone else’s blog, ‘they are 95%water, and have no brain’. The purple design inside the jelly bag is apparently its gonads … ‘I have sex therefore I am’?
So that was our summer holiday. Wonderfully, before the weather really slumped into cool and grey! On the way home, visiting a friend in Wells (Somerset), a swarm of bees was resting in the car park on a telegraph pole.
we were pleased to see again the day-flying moths: two Scarlet Tigers appeared resting together on Cranesbill Geranium leaves and for a few days afterwards these, and Five Spot Burnets (or narrow-bordered 5-spot Burnets) appeared doing courtship dances. Scarlet Tigers love nettles, and I’ve been allowing some to grow around the very edges of the garden the last couple years to encourage them.
I’ve also been watching the progress of a pair of swans who built a nest on the reed beds
nearby the canal.Shortly before we went away, they appeared by the canal with their three cygnets. Lots of photos for another time, and I’m horrified to learn that ‘cygnets numbers are down by a third due to air guns’. How cruel and short-term some people’s thrills can be.
And this was a writing about writing blog? The desk has possibly begun to call at last …
Collaboration is a hot topic, especially in the market of workplace or productivity applications, but as a buzzword it is far too easily bandied about. Recent improvements in technology have made it easy to bolt networking on to any app, but, as with most software, solving the technical problem is only part of the solution. What’s required to fully realise what’s now possible is a thorough understanding of the user needs, how they relate to collaboration, and be led by designing for them.
I’m going to tell you why most collaboration solutions are unfit for purpose and how, at Poetica, we’ve approached solving the user experience part of the equation.
What is collaboration?
Collaboration is simply the process of two or more people working together. It also comes with the added benefit of producing better outcomes than if someone works alone. Sounds simple; but anyone who’s worked in a team…
Here’s about me, and other Indie authors, in a summary of the Festival by Debbie Young, the Hawkesbury LitFest organiser: Debbie’s nickname should be ‘always positive’ since she has a huge gift of encouragement – just what writers need!
Here’s an announcement of her 3rd Crater Lake novel from my fellow-ALLi member Francis Guenette. If it’s anywhere near the first two, thoroughly recommended: Francis writes from her working knowledge of human nature through a career in counselling, and sets these novels in the beautiful West of Canada …
Sparky the cat sunbathed today, so he was occupied while I revisited some old edits from my novel Baby, Baby (published 2010) … and found this Incident in St Ives … Daze Potter (17 1/2) and Dr John Guthrie (the famous fertility expert) discuss what makes animals look the way they do …
An Incident in St Ives … Christmas Holidays, 1984 ..
Daze thinks she’s the only visitor at the Trewyn Studio Sculpture Garden today. Frost spikes the grass, and from the azure sky a pale dazzling sun glitters on the sculptures.
‘Hi,’ says a voice.
He’s a bearlike guy, middle-aged, and very slightly familiar: he is the famous Dr John Guthrie, her stepsister Jenny’s Dad.
‘Hi,’ says Daze, eyes screwed against the amazing winter sun. Something prompts her to act nonchalant. ‘You over here to see the sculptures? Barbara Hepworth’s cool. You been before?’
‘Uh – no – in the area, killing a few minutes, getting to know the places to go,’ John says.
‘You moving here?’ She expects he’s after a holiday cottage, the sort that takes away homes from locals.
‘England, yes: Cornwall, no.’
‘Right. Jenny’s not home today. Gone out. You knew that?’
‘Yeah, yeah … I’m here for the week so … Tell me about Hepworth then, educate me about art.’
Daze doesn’t buy his approach. He’s surely read up enough art to make conversation at posh parties. But she plays straight, plunging into her subject and pointing out the pieces she likes best in the Garden. ‘Hepworth’s early work was figurative, but then she began adding windows on the world through the figures. Because we’re part of nature.’ She pauses, looking up at John to see if he’s actually showing interest. Then adds, ‘If holes can be add-ons – maybe not?’
John chuckles. Good.
‘Anyhow, I love the wooden ones best, silky and tactile: don’t you want to run your palms over them? It’s not allowed, but whatever …’ Her hands move like a dancer’s, just not touching, over the nearest figure.
Petite and serious, Daze knows she’s pleasing him.
They move on, towards a water feature where the golden fish are today snuggled deep down away from the surface. ‘Fluidity,’ Daze says, gesturing at it with mittened, expressive hands. ‘I don’t like Andy Warhol’s stuff, taking some media icon and stamping it out over and over, like repeating something from a template is clever-clever. Irony’s dead, and no-one’s got anything more to say. But Hepworth knew how to be timeless…I didn’t know you liked art.’
John shrugs. ‘I like to know what’s going on in the art world.’
And I was right, thinks Daze, pleased again. ‘This lecture Jen’s going to next week – with the enigmatic Max – that’s about shapes, isn’t it? Animals’ shapes?’
‘We call them phenotypes,’ he grins. ‘You into biology?’
‘Maybe. Tell me?’
‘You mentioned fluidity. Well what it’s about is roughly this: every animal or insect is different – in its own way. The genes which describe the phenotype – or simply pattern for making them – that’s the same sequence for each. Fluid.’
‘Sequence? Jenny talks about DNA sequences … it’s like the language of life?’
‘You could say. So, there seems to’ve been a kind of fluidity – movement from one species design to another, meanwhile certain basic patterning techniques are retained. Kept. Used in all cases. Not your Andy Warhol templates, more like -’
‘Crochet? Same stitches but different combinations?’ says Daze, enthusiastic for more. ‘And different combinations of colours and thicknesses of yarn?’
‘Got it. Homeobox means genes out of the same box – many skeins of yarn, different colours and thicknesses.’ John laughs. ‘Crochet. Hey, you heard about my sister Val? Lives in Scotland? Breeds sheep, uses their wool to make – tweeds and knitted hats … all kinds of fabrics and patterns, same basic stuff … yep. I think we’d be safe to say that around 600 million years ago there was a common ancestor of animals on Earth today. This animal, whatever it was like, somehow acquired that genetic toolkit – specially-adapted body-building genes. The structures they build diversified – the key genes are still the same, hardly different in widely varying animals.’ He winks. ‘Wicked, or what, Daisy?’
‘Totally wicked. Awesome. Thanks for explaining.’
‘You’re welcome …Cold, hey?’ John rubs his hands and stamps his feet. Looks at his watch. ‘I’ve a couple of hours, then I need to be in Bodmin. How about we find a hot chocolate somewhere, and a muffin?’
‘Yeah: could be …’ Hmm: is he useful? Is he intriguing, with his animal-making knowledge? (to be continued…)
Meet Mari Howard and a host of other Indie Authors at the Indie Author Fair, Foyles, London, April 17th –
(Originally written for the March edition of the Hawkesbury Parish News, this post praises our village shop and encourages people everywhere to shop local)
Shop this way….
“I’m sending you a tall dark handsome man.”
So I was told when I popped in to the Hawkesbury Shop to collect my regular Hobbs House bread order the other week. Hmm, now there’s a new service I didn’t know about, I thought, wondering what my husband would make of it.