Category Archives: just for fun

Weather in stories, with thanks to Snoopy

Stifling weather…

As we’re sweltering in this hot weather, I thought it might be interestng to blog about weather and writing. With a nod to the patron saint of writers, Charles M Schultz‘s wonderful Snoopy. That’s the Snoopy who longs to be a bestselling writer and who always—well, nearly always—begins his stories with his tried and tested formula about the weather.Snoopy start with weather: it was a dark and stormy nightTo be fair, there are variants and I had fun searching them out. With a grateful acknowledgement to Schultz and the Peanuts strip, here are a couple of weather variants you might enjoy. First there’s subtleSnoopy applies subtlety to the weather Continue reading

Book descriptors : but what do they actually mean?

TBR pile of booksThis week, in connection with something unrelated to this blog, I came across a lot of book descriptors. By that, I mean the kind of words that are supposed to identify types and genres of fiction. Now I think I know what’s meant by romance or historical or saga. But some of the others? Um. Not so much.

So this blog is about a failing in my education. I need to get my head around these new and unfamiliar words to describe fiction. Who knows, I may even be writing some of them?
But if I don’t understand the book descriptors, how will I ever know?

Uplit, or Up-Lit, or Up Lit (Take your pick on spelling)

One of the first book descriptors I fell over was Uplit. I tried the dictionary. Nope. (It asked me if I’d meant to type uplift. Sigh.) Continue reading

Blinking into the Sunlight

Janus gateways to 2016I’ve been wondering all week who it was who first “emerged blinking into the sunlight.” It’s a lovely phrase but these days it’s turned into a cliché. Google it, and you find rather a lot of very dull examples but no source.

That is especially true now that Covid 19 restrictions may be coming to an end at last. For the time being. Perhaps.

So where did this lovely phrase originate? Shakespeare? The Bible? Milton? Doesn’t look like it.

Or could it be Mole, abandoning his whitewashing for the sheer delights of the spring, the river and friends?

London skyline with St Paul's dome and skyscrapers in fogOr poor devastated Orpheus, evicted from the Underworld, alone.

Maybe, though, it is more mundane. Maybe even collective. Prisoners, say. Or people who have gathered underground as a refuge. Maybe even an audience at some all-night movie show, leaving the cinema as day breaks.

A Mole Moment

So this morning, I woke up just after dawn. I’m a lark, not an owl, and this is normal for me. But it had rained like Niagara nearly all of yesterday and the light this morning was extraordinary. Piercing is the only word. It was my Mole moment. I wanted to be out there adventuring.

And pretty soon I was.

With a herd of elephants on the move.

I should explain that last night friends came to dinner. The first friends round my table for eighteen months! (I was like a labrador whose master has just come home from a year in Space.) And on the way to my house they had photographed this herd.

I  needed to see them. So out I went into the diamond-bright morning to look. And there they were, heading in determined convoy across a playing field. That’s the playing field outside the Saatchi Gallery at the Duke of York’s Headquarters on the King’s Road. Continue reading

Non-Holidays : What I Didn’t Do on My Holidays

man holding no entry sign in front of faceHolidays? Wot holidays?
Just non-holidays, actually.

Towards the end of last year, Sophie blogged on the perennial school essay topic of What I Did On My Holidays. With Easter coming up soon, I’ve been thinking about holidays too. And I’ve realised how much I’ve missed over the last year of more or less permanent lockdown.
You might be feeling equally stir-crazy?

I haven’t been away from home for a year. But I should have been. I had holidays and trips booked. They had to be postponed or cancelled. So I’m going to muse on might-have-beens. Non-holidays, if you like.

After all, we writers use our imaginations all the time.
So why not holiday that way?

Lake District Non-Holidays (of the working variety)

Lake District in overcast weather. Non-holiday destination

Imagine walking down that beautiful hillside towards the water, smelling the freshness of the trees and feeling the breeze on your face. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to do that? Continue reading

Christmas Bake-Off with Libertà : Bake Yummy Treats

Christmas is a time to bake…

flour covered hands ready to bake

Image by Lisa Kreutzer from Pixabay

…and here’s Liz’s twist on the traditional mince pies to bake at home.

First the mincemeat. This is a recipe to make your own without the dreaded palm oil, although you can, of course, use your favourite out of a jar. Continue reading

Anachronisms and pesky unknown unknowns to puzzle us

key on keyboard labelled Oops! for mistakeWriters of historicals are always on the lookout for anachronisms. They still trip us up, time and again. But the real elephant traps are the unknown unknowns [© D Rumsfeld?], the things we don’t know we don’t know—and, as a result, we don’t know we’re getting wrong.

I was prompted to write this blog by some of the reactions to my post about habit words, a couple of weeks ago. woman with clock, pointing finger at headSo this week’s post is about anachronisms of various kinds.

Anachronisms? The standard definition is something out of its time—an object, an expression, an attitude—something that does not belong in the period of the story.

We wouldn’t put electric light in a Regency setting, for example. That one is easy to spot. But how am I, as a historical writer, supposed to spot the ones that lurk in the undergrowth of my ignorance? Continue reading

Lockdown Puzzles : Word Search and Sudoku

puzzles taxing the brain - a woman struggles

What to do during lockdown? Last week, we suggested recipes you might enjoy. This week, I’m suggesting some puzzles — none too difficult, I promise — to test your grey cells.

Libertà Puzzles : #1 Word Search for Romance Lovers

Pride and Prejudice: 4 Bennet sisters in BBC version

In the grid below are well-known book titles, authors, characters and houses.
See how many you can find, using the clues below the grid. Continue reading

12 Days of Christmas (slightly revised for Botswana)

  1. Christmas Wishes and 12 Days of Goodies to come
  2. Day 1 of 12 Days of Christmas : A Partridge in a Pear Tree & P D James
  3. Day 2 of 12 Days of Christmas : 2 Turtle Doves & Jewellery
  4. Day 3 of 12 Days of Christmas : 3 French Hens & translations
  5. Day 4 of 12 Days of Christmas : 4 Calling Birds & Song
  6. Day 5 of 12 Days of Christmas : 5 Gold Rings & Tolkien
  7. Day 6 of 12 Days of Christmas : 6 Geese a-Laying & Paul Gallico
  8. Day 7 of 12 Days of Christmas : 7 Swans a-Swimming & Company
  9. Day 8 of 12 Days of Christmas : 8 Maids a-Milking & Heyer
  10. Day 9 of 12 Days of Christmas : 9 Ladies Dancing & Joanna
  11. Day 10 of 12 Days of Christmas : 10 Lords a-Leaping & Wimsey
  12. Day 11 of 12 Days of Christmas : 11 Pipers Piping & Ratty
  13. Day 12 of 12 Days of Christmas : 12 Drummers Drumming & Play
  14. Day 13 of 12 Days of Christmas : Was It Worth It?
  15. Twelfth Night
  16. 12 Days of Christmas (slightly revised for Botswana)
  17. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 1
  18. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 2
  19. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 3
  20. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 4
  21. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 5
  22. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 6
  23. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 7
  24. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 8
  25. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 9
  26. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 10
  27. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 11
  28. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 12 Part 1
  29. Sophie’s Christmas Mystery Serial Episode 12 conclusion

A couple of years ago, Sophie produced a series of blogs around The Twelve Days of Christmas and books that the verses suggested to her. Many of you followed the blogs — which are still available here — and read some of the books Sophie suggested.
I was one of those who found new authors that way. And I am very grateful.

I’m not doing anything so erudite this year. But the carol came into my mind when I was sorting through photographs from a mate’s safari trip to Botswana. (Isn’t that a fabulous sunset, above?) I have permission to use the pics to illustrate the doggerel I’ve created, with apologies to whoever wrote the original carol. (For my Twelve Days Botswana version, there isn’t enough content for 12 blogs, so you get it all in one!)

Twelve Days of Christmas, Botswana-style:
you may wish to sing along as you read 😉

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

a raptor in a bare tree.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Continue reading

For the Love of Owls

owls,. Little owlFirst you should know: I love owls. When I was at college, I lived for a time in a cottage opposite a field. We had a visiting Little Owl. I first encountered it when I came home at dusk to find Something sitting on the stone wall that surrounded our garden. I thought a child had dropped a stuffed toy and I reached to retrieve it. Until it OPENED ITS EYES.

It was a Little Owl. And they are really small, as you see. 1.5 bricks tall, max. But the message was direct, unmistakeable and compelling: DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT.

I’ve been a huge fan of owls ever since. Continue reading

Spring colours : yellow and blue?

Spring colours : daffodils in flower among trees

Spring colours — and all aspects of spring, as we said a few weeks ago — gladden the heart. But have you ever noticed that Spring flowers are mostly yellow and blue? Think daffodils, like those above, grape hyacinths, a drift of bluebells…

mist of bluebells among trees

Spring colours: is white included?

Continue reading