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!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014


On Monday night I went to bed full of confidence and good cheer. I just had two job interviews which I thought had gone well and the Netherlands were heading the medals table in the winter Olympics. Tuesday morning I got up and after many days of rain, it was a glorious sunny day. I jumped out of bed and told my self: 'this week is going to be great!'
What an idiot I can hear you say, never assume the best, you're setting yourself up for a fall.

First I received a call from one of the jobs; they had picked someone else for the 1st of March start, but they may have something for me in April. Disappointing but no disaster, still in the running for the other job.

Then I looked at how my book promotion was going. Again no disaster but things could have gone better, to cheer my self up I went to Youtube to look at the videos of my kitten Clicquot. As I observed the number of hits I realised that my cat would probably be famous before me.
No problem there I still think he is adorable and I wish him well in his acting career.

Then I braved outside and enjoyed a nice walk along the beach in the sun and on the way home I stopped at a cash dispenser to get some Euro's. Transaction went as normal until the notes were due to come out. The machine made an attempt to spew out the notes but didn't succeed, it frantically dinged urging me to take my cash. It was 30€, again no disaster but the surly attitude of the bank staff who just would not believe me, really put me in a bad mood. Now I have to wait for my online transaction statement and somehow prove the BNP bank stole my money!

I just got home when a friendly neighbour informed me that some of our cellars were flooded including mine. They had done work on the heating system and now there was a layer of water in the cellars. Not too much got soaked and I wouldn't say it was a disaster, I mean, how dare I speak of disasters when Somerset  in England has been under water for 8 weeks and most of Europe had to deal with some flooding crisis or another.

Here on the mountainous côte d'Azur we had problems with the unusual weather patterns too. Rain/snow fall is 40% above normal and is creating a lot avalanches, landslides, flash floods and even a train crash;

when the rain dislodged a massive boulder which hit the train and knocked it of the rails, unfortunatly 2 people where killed and many injured.

So all in all my life is still pretty good and I have a lot to be grateful for, but I will think twice about jumping out of bed saying: 'This week is going to be great.'
This week is going to be average and that will have to do, it could be so much worse.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Free book giveaway

In order to get more reviews for my book I'm running another free book promotion from the 7th to the 11th of February. It's the last push to promote this book before I hopefully have something else to put out there. If you haven't read it, this is what it is about:

This funny story follows Scottish vampire Cameron Blair, as he comes to terms with his new ‘life’, from his first days as a hapless vampire in war-torn France to the glamorous modern day setting of the Côte d’Azur. Along the way, he develops a distinctive taste for the finer things in life: jewels, yachts, small dogs and champagne-infused human...

Time is running out as the job market is hotting up here. A lot of companies on the Côte d'Azur recruit now for the summer season, and I'm pleased to say that I have 2 interviews lined up. As much as I would like to become a full-time writer; it's not a realistic prospect just now. The seasonal contracts run from about March to October so the race is on to get as much done as possible before that. 

So time for this writer to take off those comfy lounge about the house garments, apply make-up and uncomfortable shoes. To put on that smile that says: 'No writing is just a hobby, I really, really want to work here and in 5years time I see myself in a senior role!'

Tuesday, 4 February 2014


I'm having a very frustrating day looking into promoting my self published book. I'm feeling very overwhelmed by all the advice and information that is out there. One handy site I got was for Bowker.
according to their site, Bowker is the world's leading provider of bibliographic information management solutions designed to help publishers, booksellers, and libraries better serve their customers. The company is focused on developing various tools and products that make books easier for people to discover, evaluate, order, and experience. Their service is free and came recommended. I decided to give it a try and went on to register. Soon I came unstuck as I am the publisher and I don't have an ISBN number hence I don't exist as such even though I have published via KDP.  To my surprise I discovered that you can request an ISBN number for an e-book.

Via the same link I ended up on their page to buy an ISBN number at 125$. Even though this was via the UK site it gave me an US form and no way to fill in my french details. After some more research I discovered that you have to request an ISBN number in the country where you live.

My heart sank as I went on the AFNIL (the french agency for issuing ISBN) I encountered a website that could do like a few things here in France, with being dragged screaming and kicking into the 21st century. I tried phoning them as I wasn't quite sure if the 'Agence Francophone pour la Numérotation Internationale du Livre' was quite the right place for my English language book. After trying all 3 options on their automated service I got either referred to their website or could leave a fax number after the beeb. What I have learned here is not lose patience and just start filling out forms, if you do it wrong they bounce them back and you start again. (I know a laborious way of fact finding but it often is as quick as reading all the websites, making calls and getting it wrong anyway.) Forms dully filled out, scanned and dispatch by email and now we have to wait for 3 weeks with baited breath.

Yes I would have liked a nice website with an easy online registration form to get my ISBN straight away, but unlike US company Bowker  who charges 125$ the french registration is free. The French appreciate their art and literature and if you have the patience and determination there is a lot of help to support you in your endeavors. So today I have to say, vive la France; if all goes well you'll have saved me 125$

Sunday, 2 February 2014

New reasons not to be writing

To be honest, I haven't done too badly with writing this week as I exceeded my target and now have 4 short stories for a planed co-written bundle. The follow up to Language in the blood is also progressing, but rather than adding words, I deleted large sections and rewrote them.

But the next weeks are going to bring many distractions in the form of Clicquot. Not the brand of champagne but the equally orange little tomcat we decided to adopt from the local animal shelter. He is about 4 months old and as all kittens; very lively. Most of yesterday was spend following the kitten about with a camera. We managed to capture a great video of him attacking the mirror; below the link to Youtube:

He is currently asleep on the chair next to me so I can get some time to catch up with emails and write this blog post. Next week I will have to seriously look at promoting the book, so be on the lookout for another free promotion period coming up. Meanwhile I hope you will enjoy Clicquot's antics.