Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Being a good citizen

It has been a wee while since my last blog posting; work, cat and life in general getting in the way. Cat has now been drugged with some food and is snoozing to digest the crunchies and I'm trying to ignore all other things that need to be done. I hope to get this blog written before I start work at 13.30.

Last Sunday we had local elections here and it was my and my husbands first time that we could vote in France. I had been rather puzzled by my poling card as it didn't mention when the vote was; you're just supposed to keep your eye on the news. I could have done some more research before heading out, but where is the fun in that. Learning the language is so much more challenging when you know nothing and have to ask questions to do the right thing. (Well that's my excuse for being ill informed.)

We turned up at the poling station excitedly waving our polling cards at the friendly volunteers. They requested ID which we duly produced. Then we were directed to a table with a flyer for each candidate with a bemused smile.
   'this isn't a very secret ballot' protested I.
The volunteer explained with a patient smile which he normally reserves for a not too bright child, that I had to take one of each, go behind the curtain and pick one, put it in the envelop provided and discard or take home the rest. I did as asked and put my vote in the ballot box. My chest swelled with good citizenship. We both got our polling card stamped with a date. This led to much hilarity as we speculated what would happen next.

Is the exit poll the Binbag? Does someone count the discarded flyers? (That's 80 times not you mate:))

The next round of voting is on the 30th do we get to vote again? Is it going to be a run off between the top 3 candidates?

The poling card has 12 boxes, do I get to vote more than once?

If I fill up my card do I get a free Pizza?

If I get to vote once for local and once for European elections, does this mean I have to hold on to this card for 24 years (assuming we vote once every 2 years)?

If I lose this card, do I lose my right to vote?

I promise I'll grill a french colleague before the polls open again on the 30th of March, but for the moment I like the option of voting 12 times and getting a free Pizza.

Thursday, 6 March 2014


Holiday ! This might seem a strange thing to say for someone who just started a new job, but 3 days in I can’t seem to shake this holiday feeling. It might have to do with the fact that I’ve spend my breaks in the departure lounge of terminal 2 at Nice airport. My work background noise is a mixture of easy listening and flight departure announcements. My day is spend the way I normally pass the time in departure lounges; by trying out all the perfumes. I clean the shelves and ring up purchases too, but these are minor details. 

I’m still in that honeymoon period of discovery; meeting new colleagues and learning about the products and so far I love it. I might be blogging in a few months about the smell of perfume bringing on a panic attacks or having a fear of departure lounges. I might need to wait till the last minute to clear security and then run to the departure gate on my next flight. I might breathe a sigh of relieve when I’m in the actual plane and they start taxiing. I could startle the other passengers with a wild scream when we commence our take-off; ‘Woohoo, I’ve just survived the departure lounge!’

So far so good, the only snag is the fact that at the end of the day, I don’t get to take a plane to some exiting destination. I do however get to drive my scooter home along the beach, and the weekends; well those I get to spend in the south of France, and how cool is that?

Sunday, 2 March 2014


This Saturday I received an email from my new employer that I will be starting work on Tuesday. This was not totally unexpected as they said they wanted me to start as soon as possible, however the predicted time for the relevant paper work meant that we penciled in the 11th of March. So starting one week early had me a little panicked; there is still so much I wanted to do!

It was also a lovely sunny weekend and I should enjoy my last weekend of freedom, shouldn't I? I managed to have a swim, a walk and a well deserved beer on a terrace. I also did a few more hours of writing and I'm pleased to say the book is finished and I'm happy with it. When I wrote the first draft of my first book, I was pretty clueless. I knew I had a good character, but putting a book together was another matter. My friend and editor Penny guided me a lot during the following drafts and rewrites.

Book two is hopefully equally funny, I certainly think that the copy I now have on my computer is better written, thought out and testament to a more confident writer. I'm starting to learn what it takes and I'm not going to give up on publishing. I know my new job is going to keep me busy over the next eight months but I will try hard to keep my fingers on the keyboard.

It feels like I haven't achieved as much as I wanted, but when I take stock of my two months unemployment, well it's not bad. I have finished the book and I'm happy with the result and I've written 5 short stories. (they still need a bit of work but nothing a few hours without a cat distracting me won't fix!)
It might go a bit quieter but keep watching this space, there will be more releases!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Arguing with science

When I chose to make my character a vampire it was mainly to give total free reign to my fantasy. He is a vampire, they don’t exist therefore I can make him do whatever I want, right?
Not quite, you’re touching on a much used and much loved genre so there are certain myths you have to stick to. I’ve kind of stayed with the old school traits such as, sunlight, a wooden stake through the heart, and beheading kills. Cameron also has no reflection in the mirror and can’t have his picture taken. I’ve added my own slant by stating that garlic can gives a vampire a nasty rash and he can absorb language through the blood. (Hence the title)

With modern inventions we are getting on shaky ground and this has led to a few differences of opinion with my husband and my usual answer of:
                ‘He is a vampire, the laws of physics don’t apply to vampires,’ is not cutting the mustard.
I think a vampire can make a phone call but said conversation can’t be recorded. My husband launched into an explanation about sound waves and well you can’t argue with science, right?

I decided to consult the “experts”, because these days any argument is settled by the internet; and this is what the “experts” had to say on the subject:
Can they be heard over the phone?
According to Buffy the vampire slayer; the experts in modern vampires, a resounding yes. Angel too makes several phone calls in the spin off series Angel.
Can they be recorded?
According to:
Somewhat-common additional (mostly modern) rules for vampires are:
  • Cannot be photographed or caught on video, often an extension of the "no reflection" rule. This may also be related to the silver rule; mirrors and photographic film are both (usually) made from silver.
    • In Moonlight, Mick explains in a voiceover that he could not be photographed when silver was used in film, but digital cameras have changed all that.
    • In the TV series Ultraviolet (unrelated to the film), the vampire hunters use sights that pretty much amount to video cameras strapped to their guns in order to tell vampire from non-vampire.
    • In the anime Magical Pokaan, Pachira does not show up on a normal digital camera but is perfectly visible when viewed with an infrared camera.
  • Cannot be heard over phone lines.
But according to this site my husband is right:

Vampires don't show up like normal people on camera or in mirrors: Fact. Vampires show up with their features obscured in photographic media (including video footage) and in mirrors. They can temporarily counteract this effect, but by "default," their features are obscured. The same is not true for voice recordings; vampires' voices are captured normally on voice recorders.

Luckily I came across this site where you can take a quiz to see if you are a vampire. I think the following three questions vindicate me:

·  Does your reflection seem to be missing when you look in the mirror?
·  Are you invisible in photos, videos, audio tapes, or any other recording medium?
·  Can you get past electronic surveillance equipment (cameras, microphones, laser trip wires, etc.)?

I see it as follows: Cameron only exist if there is blood involved, hence a human ear can hear him but a machine can't. I also think only natural things can harm him, ea sunlight, garlic, natural drugs and wooden stakes.
I think the moral of this exercise is that regarding vampires there are no facts, only myths. I think if I don’t stray too far from the myths I can do whatever the hell I want, it seems everyone else does!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

battered laptop

Despite Clicquots best efforts, the laptop is still working and I'm laying the finishing touches to language in the blood two. I'm still looking for an interesting subtitle and it is far from published. First I have to see if my lovely editor has time to take this project on. Any suggestions for a subtitle are welcome!

Clicquot the cat loves the laptop; scrolling through emails fascinates him but results quickly in a two pawed pounce against the screen. If I ignore him he wanders over the keyboard or starts gnawing on the screen. It's a wonder the poor thing still works the amount of time it has been pounced flat against the table. Needless to say, you have to switch the laptop off when he comes along, so I mostly only get between 2pm and 5pm to get some writing done, when his majesty is enjoying his nap.

The good news is that spring has sprung here. The water is still too cold to brave it without a wetsuit but on a sunny day it is definitely beach weather here. I tried taking the laptop out on to the balcony yesterday and that seemed to work to an extend as Clicquot was busy sniffing and exploring around me. I'm glad he doesn't seem the type to jump over the railing chasing some beasty, but he is only 4 and half months old, so close supervision is still needed.

The start of my work is looming large and there is still so much I want to get done, but sometimes you just need to switch the computer off and enjoy what is all around you. Clicquot will only be a kitten for a short time, when he is a big cat that wants to sleep all day, I'll pick up speed again. Now where's that fluffy mouse!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Bookreview: Snippets by Laura Besley

I've been looking forwards to reading this selection of flash fiction because Laura Besley is like me a blogger and new author. I'm also putting together a book of short stories so I was interested to see her work. The author has lived like myself in the Netherlands and the UK, but I ended up in France and she in Hong Kong. I was disappointed not to read about Hong Kong life in the stories, but that is on a personal note and doesn't take away from a great collection of work.

The Blurb:
Murder, a drug addict, an arranged marriage, a groom on his wedding day, an old couple on a day out: this collection of flash fiction traverses twenty-one lives, giving snippets of their relationships , their highs and lows, their struggles and successes.

My opinion:
This is a great selection of very short stories or as the author calls it flash fiction. They deal with every day situations like death, love, duty and even a dinner party. All of the stories were good but I was often left wanting more from a situation or a character. It is flash fiction and therefore stories are meant to be very short but some left me dissatisfied. However here are some of my highlights:
I thought this was very original, a mundane conversation by a couple whilst preparing spaghetti Bolognese for a dinner party. During the conversation you receive the entire recipe.
About an elderly woman and her wheelchair bound husband, I can't say too much but it had me laughing out loud.
A woman sits in her bathroom looking at some letters from her past, reminiscing about someone she used to know. This was a wonderful story about regret.
This is about two work friends (girls) discussing the break-up of a mutual friend, the two agree that it is a terrible thing, but one friend's feelings are not sincere.

I was in two minds whether to to give this 4 or 5 out of 5. I had an issue with the genre of flash fiction, as I said it left me at times dissatisfied, but the quality of the writing was good and I would love to see some longer work by this author. So 5 it is:)

Snippets is available on amazon:

You can read Laura's blog on:

Monday, 17 February 2014

Optimism II

Turned out it wasn't such a bad week after all. The basement is drying out and apart from the Saturday the weather has been fine and at times sunny. I even managed to get that job after all. I'm starting the 11th of March in the duty free shop@nice airport. The airport has an unique atmosphere and I enjoyed my previous season there very much. It's at times unpredictable and you have to be willing to do overtime, but unlike my job in Monaco; the overtime is paid. I'll be working either the early morning or late evening so I should be able to keep writing and get that much needed beach time. I mean tans don't just happen!

As much as you love something and would like to write about it, sometimes it doesn't fit with the character. I have a background in jewellery and a love of gemstones, so it made sense to make Cameron a jewellery thief. I also have a love of anything airplane and one of my most amazing aviation experiences was to go up in a vintage Tiger moth. I was at the time learning to fly and not worried when the pilot suggested we do some tricks. The loop de loop was done at such slow speed that it seemed we would be stuck upside down at the top of the loop. The Tiger moth however is known for its maneuverability at low speed and made an excellent training airplane:

I would love to get Cameron to fly one of these, but to lean how to fly you would have to put in some daylight hours first. Maybe his friend Charley would've had his license and experience of night time flying. On a clear night you could've flown one of these without problems. I might consider an aviation story for book 2. Modern airports are unfortunately a no go for vampires, but maybe some of the passengers stories will inspire me.

I hope to get a lot of writing done before I start the job, but the kitten is doing it's best to stop that from happening. He sleeps between 2 and 5pm if I'm lucky, but the rest of the time he is trying to type on my laptop too.(Or biting the screen!)

To finish of the week we had the excellent ladies 1500M speed skating results. Well done the Dutch girls for getting gold, silver, bronze and chocolate. (One of the french ski team came up with that to take some comfort in coming fourth. I think that is rather sweet; so you came fourth! poor you here's a medal made of chocolate:)

So bring on the week, the sun is shining....what could could go wrong? I also would like to thank Clicquot for his input, that screen really did need to be pounced upon and knocked flat, the blog is so much the better for it!