My Copyright registered & protected

27 February 2009

Current Work: None, I'm having a little time off...
Listening to: The sound of the washing machine filling with water
Reading: The Shadow of the Wind (by a Spanish Writer)

First Thought of the Day:
Only the madman is absolutely sure. -Robert Anton Wilson, novelist (1932-2007)

Just A Quickie
I've been away this week, hence there are no posts. I should have posted something on Monday, but time, as always, ran out. Can time ever run out? Anyway have taken some time out to pamper and re-energise and all those things you need to do from time to time. Not that my writing persona ever switches off, it just goes on hibernate for a while. Being in one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, Florence, I couldn't turn off the words, even if I wanted to. There is so much to write about. But anyway am now back at the desk and having a little catch up but will be on all cylinders firing, next week (which will also be next month...can't believe where the time runs to...)

And Finally the Last Word of the Day:



adjective: Having the same age or duration.
noun: A contemporary.

From Latin coaevus, from co- (in common) + aevum (age), from Greek aion (age). Ultimately from the Indo-European root aiw-/ayu- (vital force, life, eternity) that is also the source of ever, never, aye, nay, eon, eternal, medieval, primeval, utopia, Sanskrit Ayurveda.

"Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born in the same year, on the same day: Feb 12, 1809. ... Instinctively, we want to say that they belong together. It's not just because they were both great men, and not because they happen to be exact coevals. Rather, it's because the scientist and the politician each touched off a revolution that changed the world."
Malcolm Jones; Who Was More Important: Lincoln or Darwin?; Newsweek (New York); Jul 7, 2008.

20 February 2009


Current Work: Queries and Catch up

Listening to: Radio 4 Serial “The Scoop” Evelyn Waugh

Reading: Bad Luck and Trouble (Lee Child) – nearly finished!

First Thought for the Day:

To profess to be doing God's will is a form of megalomania. -Joseph Prescott, aphorist (1913-2001)

Birthday Girl

Yep, its my birthday today. My Man Friday tried to persuade me to take the day off and as it is a most beautiful bright day, I was tempted. However, as we have planned a trip to Florence next week, I felt duty bound to refuse! Silly me. Anyway birthdays are never the same once you are over 21 are they? I love reading the birthday cards though, there is so much choice these days. Having said that they don’t ‘do’ birthday cards in Italy so I hand make all mine which is quite satisfying. I’m not so good at the prose though, poetry is not my bag. I always feel a bit silly. The best birthday cards I got were made (with a little help from parents I suspect) from my granddaughter and grandson.

Something for the Weekend?

Well not much being as its my birthday weekend – you have to stretch it out a little. I’ve got it up to three days so far, birthday eve, the actual birthday and a boxing birthday! But I think that’s pushing it. Queries are done and this short blog posted and the dog is whining at my feet for his tea. So I think I shall sign off and call it a day. Buon Compleanno to fellow Pisceans celebrating this weekend.

And Finally, the Last Word of the Day:

God's acre


(godz AY-kuhr)


noun: A cemetery, especially one next to a church.


Loan translation of German Gottesacker, from Gott (god) + Acker (field). The allusion is that the bodies of the dead are sown in the field in hope of resurrection.


"Mourning strangers also came to weep anniversary tears at another cheerless God's acre."

Frank Keating; Ask Not For Whom the Bell Tolls, It Tolls For These; The Guardian (London, UK); Sep 26, 2006.

18 February 2009


Current Work: Suite 101 articles, fiction editing

Listening to: Nothing, having trouble connecting to BBC i player!

Reading: Bad Luck and Trouble (Lee Child), Writing Magazine

First Thought for the Day:

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product. -Eleanor Roosevelt, diplomat and author (1884-1962)

Workplace Conditions

I’ve probably written about my workspace before. Its in the basement of my Italian casa, which eventually will become a nice sunny kitchen. However, at the moment it is the coldest place of the house. I am typing this wearing fingerless gloves, I have four layers of clothing and two pairs of socks on my feet. The radiator is on but frankly not having much affect and I made my Man Friday block up all the holes to the outside world! Overnight we have had about 6 inches of snow and as I speak there is a blizzard blowing. The end of my nose has frostbite – I’m certain. How many workers would put up with these conditions? Not many I bet. They would be all quoting health and safety figures or some such like. But no. No me, not a writer. We have to persevere no matter what. Well, I shall be relocating to the warmth of the lounge this afternoon along with my favourite writing mag which arrived yesterday. I may be gone for some time.

Midweek Progress

Not going too badly considering the extreme conditions I’ve described above. I had a few technical problems on Monday with my writing database which wiped out a whole afternoon but par for the course. Have published my weekly on-line article on Suite 101 about Beniamino Gigli, an Italian opera tenor and have edited some more scenes of my novel in progress, The Flying Angels. In addition have ordered presents for my two granddaughters who were very conveniently born on the same day 3 years apart and have been searching for some images to go on their birthday cards that I must make this weekend. So not bad for halfway through the week. How is it for you?

And Finally, the Last Word of the Day:

sword of Damocles

not really a word...


(sord uhv DAM-uh-kleez)


noun: An ever-present threat; an impending disaster.


After Damocles of Greek legend. Damocles was a courtier who flattered the ruler Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, to excess. The fulsome praise so annoyed the king that he decided to teach him a lesson. He held a banquet in donor of Damocles but when Damocles saw the sword hanging by a single horse-hair over his head, he lost all taste for the lavish feast. He realized that even those who appear to enjoy great fortune face fears and worries. By the way, the word impending literally means hanging over.


"Roth said, 'The threat of an audit ... looms like the sword of Damocles over the heads of taxpayers.'"

IRS Chief Wants to Balance Service, Enforcement; The Advocate (Stamford, Connecticut); Feb 13, 2009.

16 February 2009


Current Work: Planning, Editing and Celebrating

Listening to: Silence

Reading: Bad Luck and Trouble (Lee Child), Psychologies Magazine

First Thought for the Day:

I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice. -Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President (1809-1865)

Sweet Success

As you know, I have been plugging away at building a writing career for a long time, seriously for the last year or so. Well, at the end of last year I had a couple of short pieces published which really bolstered my writing ego and I felt bold enough to call my self a writer. This morning, following a couple of follow ups on Friday, I found two emails confirming commissions for pieces I have done. Yes, two! Just need a third now to make it really magical. But it just goes to show that the publishing business is a slow business (one of the pieces I submitted last November) and that as writers we have to keep on with the business of writing whilst waiting for publication. It’s a great feeling, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a buzz and I don’t think I’ll stop feeling that either. So keep on plugging away, patience really does pay off. That along with a heap of self-belief which for me, is mainly thanks to my Man Friday.

Book Worm

I’m on a Lee Childs book at the moment. It’s the first I’ve read (my Man Friday is a huge fan) and I’m really enjoying it. It has about 50 odd chapters of about 2-3 pages each so it flows quickly and has pace. Its not really my favourite genre, but it is very intriguing and its teaching me a lot about pace and plot and most particularly dialogue. There is a lot of dialogue, something I struggle with to sound ‘right’.

Goggle Box

At the moment its dominated by the Rugby (Six Nations), which has been fantastic with our UK subscription allowing us to see British telly. I never thought I would miss it but the Italian stuff is oh so terrible (and I think many of them would agree with me!

And Finally, the Last Word of the Day:

fool's gold


(foolz gold)


noun: Something that appears valuable but is worthless.


Shakespeare wrote in The Merchant of Venice, "All that glisters is not gold." Fool's gold is another name for pyrite, also known as iron pyrite or iron sulfide. Its shiny yellow luster has many fooled into believing they have struck gold while holding a mineral of little value.

The name pyrite is from Greek pyrites (of fire), from pyr (fire) because it produces sparks when struck against a hard surface. Some related words are fire, pyre, pyrosis (heartburn), pyromania (an irresistible impulse to set things on fire), and empyreal (relating to the sky or heaven, believed to contain pure light or fire.).


"Although the old rust-belt industries of the 20th century had to go, Britain turned its back on industry rather too readily. We were bedazzled by financial services: fool's gold from the City."

Matthew Parris; There's No New Motor to Drive the Economy; The Times (London, UK); Jan 24, 2009.

13 February 2009


Current Work: Query submissions, admin and follow ups

Listening to: Donna Summer Love to Love You Baby

Reading: Bad Luck and Trouble (Lee Child) You Can Write a Novel (James Smith Jnr)

First Thought for the Day:

Knowing what / Thou knowest not / Is in a sense / Omniscience. -Piet Hein, poet and scientist (1905-1996)

Friday 13th

Well, lots of people get in lather when this particular date lands on a Friday. I don’t but it did get me thinking about superstitions when I got my journal out this morning. So I did a bit of free writing and have just submitted a query based on those ideas. My maternal grandmother was very superstitious and I can remember as I child thinking that I would be banished to hell if I ever made the mistake of doing something I shouldn’t. Hmm… I suppose they are like any other story, if they are told often enough they become more believable.

Writers Tools

I’ve written about my procrastination many times on this blog and it’s a cross I know I have to bear. On Wednesday I mentioned a piece of software that claims to help organise your novel. Well I have started to play around with it and after a couple of glitches (see the technobabe entry for a bit of background on my IT skills) it seems fairly straightforward and I can see why it might be helpful. I need to use it a little more before I mention here though. But the reason I mention procrastination is because on the website where I found this particular item, there are many tools and toys to play with and guess what? Yup, I wasted probably at least an hour playing about with them. They are not something I would use on a PC – one was a brainstorming tool- but it gave me an excuse not to do something else.

Something for the Weekend?

Well, for me it looks like it is going to be a very snowy one. We’ve already had two storms and although the sun is shining brightly the temperature is low and the weather man says ‘neve, neve’. So no gardening then, maybe some rugby and definitely some reading then. And if the whim takes me, I may do a bit more outlining of a new idea I have for another novel – I did a bit of research this week and it has me hooked and… I need to make up an hours worth of procrastination.

And Finally, the Last Word of the Day:






1. A deliberately misleading story; hoax.

2. An airplane with small forward wings mounted in front of the main wings; also such a wing.


From French, literally a duck. The term is said to have come from the French expression vendre un canard à moitié (to half-sell a duck, or to take in or swindle).


"Lyndon Johnson's half-truths about the Gulf of Tonkin, supported by subservient media, embroiled the United States in a nasty war that took the lives of millions of souls. Ultimately, the Vietnam War's distortions and canards prevented him from running for a second term."

Mansour El-Kikhia; Realists Conquer Politics With Lies; San Antonio Express-News; Nov 28, 2003.

11 February 2009


Current Work: Non-fiction article writing, editing

Listening to: Italian Radio but English music

Reading: Cast in Order of Appearance (Simon Brett)

First Thought for the Day:

I believe I have no prejudices whatsoever. All I need to know is that a man is a member of the human race. That's bad enough for me. -Mark Twain, author and humorist (1835-1910)

Website Goes Live

Well, I am happy to report on the positive progress of my alter ego, Louise Charles. Following a few little hiccoughs, and I admit some of them mine the site is now live. I have published a few pages and hope to develop and add to these as I become more familiar with the web design tool. It can, I believe do lots of wizzy, techy-type things, but I’m not a wizzy, techy-type person. I like simple so I do simple. Any comments would be gratefully received.

Novel Writing Help

As you know, I have completed the first draft of my first novel. However, as I’m a bit of a luddite, the majority of this is hand-written in origin. I am now in the process of writing it all up on the PC and editing as I go along. I don’t find it tiresome at all, in fact, I’m really enjoying revisiting the characters and blending and shaping them further. But working with such a huge number of words and scenes can sometimes be a bit scary. I’ve started to use the outlining tool in Word to create a master document but I am still finding it a bit ‘lumpy’. I came across a tool the other day which claims to help organise and sort your writing and is written by a techy who also happens to write novels. So I’m going give it a go and will let you know. I’m not usually one for fads and widgets, but it had some fairly positive reviews. But this could just be a procrastination technique on my part. A very clever one nevertheless.

Writing and Writing

I’m really enjoying writing this blog, if only because I am writing. I find it difficult to write about myself thought (you may think differently on this matter) but it is getting me into a habit of some kind at least three times a week.

Oh and I’ve published my latest Suite 101 article on Opera Venues in Italy.

Ciao for now…

And Finally, the Last Word of the Day:





noun: A casual or unskilled labourer, especially on an oil rig.


From roust, perhaps an alteration of rouse (to shake feathers, as of a hawk).


"But Smith has made it, for 18 years, starting as a roustabout in Long Beach and working his way up to lead operator overseeing the daily workings of Platform B off Santa Barbara's coast."

Zeke Barlow; Platform Workers At Peace With Long Hours, Workweek; Ventura County Star (California); Feb 1, 2009.

9 February 2009


Current Work: Editorial (non-fiction),

Listening to: The ticking of a clock and the hum of my PC

Reading: Cast in Order of Appearance (Simon Brett)

First Thought for the Day:

Whatever a man prays for, he prays for a miracle. Every prayer reduces itself to this: Great God, grant that twice two be not four. -Ivan Turgenev, novelist and playwright (1818-1883)

A Weekend Off

Well, following my Friday frustration, I found out over the weekend that my website publishing problems were not mine! My host had entered some details incorrectly, hence the problems (despite a couple of patronising emails telling me to consult this guide and that information, something that I had already done before contacting them). So now (well once I’ve tidied it all up) it is all up and running. I shall post the URL (see, I’m good at the techno speak) later this week when I’m sure every thing is OK.

Book Worm

Finished the Nancy Mitford novel, my first. It took a bit of getting used to, as the font is very small and squashed. I suppose it adds to the authenticity, but when your eyesight is beginning to struggle (and I’m only in my mid – OK by next week, late, forties. I blame all those nights under the bedclothes with a torch in my childhood, trying to read my Famous Five books) the font and style of text is extremely important. The novel also was mainly descriptive with very little dialogue. What dialogue there is though, is very well structured and does move the plot forward. It was a very eccentric look at life of that time. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Now onto something different. I first heard a series of ‘Charles Paris’ on Radio 4 a few weeks back. Bill Nighy played the character and now he is in my head which is great.

Goggle Box

As you know we live in Italy. The Italian TV is dreadful and we although we have never been big TV watchers we have missed the drama series and a couple of favourite shows. We’ve been listeining to more TV but particularly in the winter sometimes its nice to snuggle down and watch a bit of tat. Anyway I have signed up for a trial internet service which gives us access to UK TV through our broadband connection. Watched the rugby yesterday – fantastic – I’m sure it will serve some purpose for my writing, if only to provide a bit of distraction.

And Finally, the Last Word of the Day:





noun: 1. A vault with niches for storing urns. 2. A dovecote or pigeon house.


From Latin columbarium, from columba (pigeon, dove).


"The group's [Americans United for Separation of Church and State] director, Rev. Barry Lynn, says the Berkeley proposal should be 'promptly laid to rest,' by allowing places for unbelievers' ashes, either in columbarium or privately held -- like ashes in a box on your mantle.' Otherwise, it's ashes to ashes, dust to dust -- but not to Berkeley."

Unbelievers' Ashes May Be Unwelcome in Berkeley; USA Today; Jan 29, 2009.

6 February 2009


Current Work: Queries and Website updating

Listening to: Steve Wright in the afternoon (via broadband)

Reading: In Pursuit of Love (Nancy Mitford)

First Thought for the Day:

Myth: we have to save the earth. Frankly, the earth doesn't need to be saved. Nature doesn't give a hoot if human beings are here or not. The planet has survived cataclysmic and catastrophic changes for millions upon millions of years. Over that time, it is widely believed, 99 percent of all species have come and gone while the planet has remained. Saving the environment is really about saving our environment - making it safe for ourselves, our children, and the world as we know it. If more people saw the issue as one of saving themselves, we would probably see increased motivation and commitment to actually do so. -Robert M. Lilienfeld, management consultant and author (b. 1953) and William L. Rathje, archaeologist and author (b. 1945)

Publish and Be Damned

Well, I’m damned but not publish. I feel a little like the last word of the day today, irascible. I shouldn’t be because its Friday. But I am because its Friday and I don’t feel convinced I have done everything I need to.

As you know, I’ve been designing a new website with a new host provider. Having got used to the web design software, I have produced a very simple, ‘clean’ if not amateur site. But a site all the same, on which I would like to showcase my work (which is also at this point unpublished – should I be listening?). Anyway having finished the design, can I upload it. As I now have broadband I thought it would be as simple as pressing a button. No. Nothing is ever that simple - especially with technical ‘things’. I’m just a simple soul; I like things to do what they say they will do without any additional knowledge required. Maybe I expect too much but…I’ll keep trying.

Progress Report

Well, as you can see I’ve been rather tied up. I have three queries ready (well OK then, two in my head and one drafted) and a couple more to follow up. As well as problems with my website I’ve been having problems with my database. I knew I should have stuck to pen and paper! Here’s to a new week, I’m off for a very large G&T.

And Finally, the Last Word of the Day:






1. Quick-tempered.

2. Showing anger or resulting from anger.


From Latin irascibilis (quick to anger), from irasci (to grow angry), from ira (anger). Ultimately from the Indo-European root eis- (passion), which is also the source of irate, ire, hierarchy, hieroglyphic, and estrogen.


"Mr. Weir concludes from his large experience that the erection of the feathers is caused much more by anger than by fear. He gives as an instance a hybrid goldfinch of a most irascible disposition, which when approached too closely by a servant, instantly assumes the appearance of a ball of ruffled feathers."

Charles Darwin; The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals; 1872

4 February 2009


Current Work: Non fiction submission, novel editing

Listening to: Radio 4 (Book Club – Listen Again)

Reading: In Pursuit of Love (Nancy Mitford)

First Thought for the Day:

As the pain that can be told is but half a pain, so the pity that questions has little healing in its touch. -Edith Wharton, novelist (1862-1937)

Advice for Writers

I’ve just received the latest copies of Writers News & Writers Magazine. These are the only magazines I subscribe too – I used to buy magazines frequently, I love reading but many of them are just not worth the money. These two publications however, are essential I believe, for my development as a writer. They are full of advice, success stories, competitions to enter, details of new markets and general information about the world of writing and publishing. I rip the plastic off and curl up on the settee for a couple of hours devouring the pages and making notes of things to follow up.

To Be or Not to Be?

However, sometimes you have to take things with a pinch of salt and that is particularly true when reading how other authors ‘do it’. How they structure their writing day and how they produce words on paper or on screen. I get too engrossed with the details of their preferences and almost start to think that their way is the only way. Well it isn’t. You have to find your own way. This was borne out by two authors I read about. One does not make constant notes, nor plans in great detail. She believes that if something is important she’ll remember it and if not it wasn’t worth remembering! She also thinks that too much plotting (for her) weakens the words and I must admit I favour this approach. Its most natural for me and I’ve lost sleep thinking I don’t do enough of it because I’m told its what writers should ‘do’. Another writer wrote about his working day, and the ‘business’ of writing. He ‘works’ (which doesn’t always mean writing) in ‘normal’ business hours of 9-5, doesn’t work evening or weekends. Another myth challenged, that as a writer, you must work every hour, every day, every spare minute.

I guess the moral of the tale is – do what suits you, try things out and if they don’t ‘fit’ don’t force it. I feel better that much more successful writers don’t always follow the ‘rules’. I’m much more comfortable in my skin and therefore produce better writing for it.

Midway Point

So half way through my week – how is it going? Fairly well, I think. Though yesterday I discovered that I’d missed a whole scene in my novel. It was a piece which is essential to the beginning and without it, well, it doesn’t make much sense. I was so sure that I’d written the scene but can I find it? So this morning after taking the dog for a walk in the mist I plotted out what the missing bits were. It felt good to be writing something with these characters again, even though I’d lived it in my head. So despite all my planning and plotting (see earlier point) I’m not infallible, things get missed. Another lesson learnt.

And Finally, the Last Word of the Day:



(noun: IN-tuhr-dikt, verb: in-tuhr-DIKT)


noun: A prohibition, especially a formal one, as by a court, church, etc.

verb tr.: To prohibit or stop.


From Latin interdictum (prohibition), from interdicere (to prohibit), from dicere (to speak). Ultimately from the Indo-European root deik- (to show, to pronounce solemnly) that is also the source of other words such as judge, verdict, vendetta, revenge, indicate, dictate, and paradigm.


"In China, near Shanghai, the inhabitants of two small districts have the privilege of raising eggs for the whole surrounding country, and that they may give up their whole time to this business, they are interdicted by law from producing silk."

Charles Darwin; The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication; 1868.

2 February 2009


Current Work: Editorial and Planning

Listening to: Steve Wright in the afternoon - horoscopes!

Reading: The Pursuit of Love (Nancy Mitford)

First Thought for the Day:

Laughter and tears are meant to turn the wheels of the same machinery of sensibility; one is wind-power, and the other water-power. -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., poet, novelist, essayist, and physician (1809-1894)


Writers need to have some sort of stimulus for their writing. The trouble is sometimes the stimuli get in the way. I’ve been following the news stories of snow in the UK ever since I received a text from my son this morning. My three-year-old granddaughter has seen snow for the first time (and likewise for her 9 year old brother). So they have been building snowmen and tobogganing, something I used to do when my son was their age.

Here from my ancient casa in the hills of Le Marche, there is snow on the mountains, but today has been shrouded in low mist which looks eerie and spooky. It reminds me of the book (and the film) The Fog, which scared me so much that when I watched it I spent most of the time behind the cushion. Now that’s what I call good writing! But the weather does promote us to think about things a little differently and I know that it influences my writing. The mood of the skies seeps into my skin and through my veins and into my fountain pen. Though this morning at my journal writing time, all three of my favourite writing tools ran out of ink! Either that means that I’ve been writing a lot – or the ink is drying up because we’ve had the heating on a lot!

Planning a New Month

Its my review of last month, planning for next today. I’ve already sat down with My Man Friday and planned out his particular tasks for the month – he hates it but it makes me feel better so he goes with the flow. As I’ve mentioned before I made a sparkly new Writing Plan at the beginning of the year and I’m determined to keep on track. So, what am I doing here then? Well, writing my blog is one of the regular slots, so I’m fulfilling a little part of it.

The Weekend Review

The Book Worm

Deborah Moggach book, it was fabulous. Reading her website, she has had a lot of her novels serialised and I believe that she wrote the recent Ann Frank drama… shame we can’t see it over here. Now reading a Nancy Mitford – it’s absolutely wicked! Really gives you a sense of living in the era – quite racy!

The Goggle Box

Out of Africa – absolutely stunning scenery and the music was haunting. I first watched this about 20 odd years ago with my sister in Leicester Square.

Dancing with the Stars (A bit like Strictly but not quite!) Italian style which is rather guache and long winded!

And Finally, the Last Word of the Day:





noun: Nearness in space, time or relationship.


From Latin propinquitas (nearness), from prope (near).


"I believe that ... propinquity of descent, -- the only known cause of the similarity of organic beings, -- is the bond, hidden as it is by various degrees of modification, which is partially revealed to us by our classifications."

Charles Darwin; On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection; 1859.