Where did April go!:)

The A- Z Blog Challenge is over for another year. It is an indulgence of mine to wear myself out writing 26 blogs following a theme. This year it was all about the gardens of my life and the influence they had on me. More memoir than fiction.

 This month though is write A Story a Day month. Of course to write 30 stories in a month is not to be expecting either very long or very polished stories, however it does concentrate the mind well.

 I was requested by my friend from forever/editor to bring out another book of reworked fairy tales. We authors take note of our editors, if we have sense. I did point out I was still struggling to bring out The Children’s Tale! Do both she says!

Actually a break from WIP might just be the answer to the present writer’s block. I will spend this month drafting fairy tales. Nothing ‘nice’ about them I hasten to add. Fairies, trolls, elves and their like are nasty vindictive, vengeful beasties and magic usually has a sting:)

 I don’t need 30 of them so might have a go at some more normal short stories.

 Time enough next month when I start JuNoWrMo, writing 50,000 words during June, to finish The Children’s Tale.

 While I have been missing I have not blogged elsewhere than didyoueverkissafrog where the A-Z of my gardens reside.

Those looking for ROW80 updates they are here

 Will back to speed next week.

 Take care all of you:)

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Utilitarian v Ornamentation

I have missed a few days here and elsewhere on cyberspace. Perfectly good reasons if I could remember them! The last was a disconnect between my machine and the Internet. Ah well I am back.

 I have attended a workshop on textured embroidery and one of the things I brought away was a superb book on Celtic, Viking & Anglo-Saxon Embroidery. I have been interested in old crafts for many years. As I read and learnt more I became more amazed at just how advanced they were, when I attended school we were taught nothing about any of these talents. The dark ages and before were never worth the learning.

They so are.

When I trashed the world for The Sefuty Chronicles and sent every one tumbling backwards to pre-industrialization, it was the old crafts I made them re-discover, the old ways of innovation. I was kind to my characters I left them the books if not the printing presses:) There is in fact a small difference of opinion running through, with two of the heroines at odds about whether decoration is essential enough to squander precious daylight hours on. Utilitarian v ornamentation. I suspect ornamentation will win. Everywhere I traveled around the world, peoples decorated themselves, their homes their chattels even their beasts of burdens. It appears to a deep rooted desire in our DNA.

 In the meantime I have been editing with NaEdNoMo – a challenge to do 50 hours of editing in the month of March. Despite having to change the tense and personal pronouns all the way through the manuscript the task proceeds well.

 On the blog front I have posted on the changes in food through my life time in When Spaghetti grew on trees., and the threat of the 1960s to an older generation Great Aunts and the danger of exposed flesh. Both here

Also my reading for The Literary Movement Challenge John Milton’s Areopagitica, one of the most influential calls for freedom of the presses, still resonating today.I also read Christopher Marlow’s Dr Faustus reviewed here.

The usual Musing Mondays and Writer’s Quote.

If you are looking for ROW80 it is here.

I have been preparing for the A-Z blog challenge next month. This is my 4th year now and because originally I only had one blog didyoueverkissafrog that is the traditional home for the A-Z. This year I gallop through my life of plants and wildlife mostly gardens of various forms. The early beginnings leading to my passion for the world in general and feeding into the books I write. So come April 1st didyoueverkissafrog will be given over to the journey.

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Yvonne Spence and her days of compassion

I am still tweaking blog sites and web pages.  My intention is to change the blog sites to web sites but have come to halt on what design I wish to have.  I have my domain names ready just not the design!  It will come.

In the meantime I am trying to tidy up and put some order on the sites I have. Like my home and garden they have been sadly neglected while I have been ill. I wanted to close down one blog, and although WordPress assures me it is easy to import them to here, I have not found it so.  Now in the process of moving them manually. Tedious but I am almost there. I will have to add an archive button and check everything is working. Like the tortoise I will win:)

The great story for last week was the splendid turn out for 1000speak blogothon. Created by Yvonne Spence her ambition was to get the blogging world talking about compassion. Her expectations have been far exceeded and the movement is now geared to do this mass blog more often .  So if anyone else wants to join in, the group can be found on facebook .  Look up some of the amazing blogs that were posted that day.

Compassion is an often misused and overlooked word. It is also a very important word and as such I have it, or at least the spirit of the word, in abundance in my Chronicles. At the beginning of the life of The Sefuty Chronicles people kept saying it was dystopian, I was never happy with that label. My books are hopeful. Compassion is what drives the renewal of a trashed world.

I learnt the true power of compassion on my travels. I came across compassionate acts many times, towards me , towards others. It is a natural instinct for most of mankind. We forget it, ignore it, trample on it at our peril.

There’s nothing much to add this week, still recovering from being poorly and an attack of arthritis = swollen hand

Blogging: Have kept that up, just about

ROW80 update
Usual Musing Monday, Writer’s Quotes.
Book Reviews 5 all together for British Books Challenge
I joined in the 1000speak day writing about compassion.
And a piece about barmy great aunts , & sleep




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We can but, should we?

When I first wrote and published Ellen’s Tale I wrote a story I believed in. Climate change, sustainability, the break down of law and social order. I imagined how the loss of society would impinge on mankind’s morality and lives. It was speculative of course but I was basing it on decades of world watching as well as people watching. I didn’t project anything into this future world that I didn’t think was a possibility.

I had been worrying about the world since at least the 1970s but very few of my friends had the same concerns. The climate to discuss it now has improved yet there is, I sense, still resistance to what the consequences for diminishing natural resources could be.

So I sent Ellen on her way and the next two volumes suspecting that any readers would dismiss it all as a little far fetched.

I have heard from people who know me and care for me that it made them think. What more could I ask for, nothing, but they cared about me so did it count. Oh the insecurities of the writer.

 When I was invited to come and talk with a reading group who had recently finished Ellen’s Tale my first instinct was to refuse. Politely of course but still a definite no. I have difficulty talking to people, especially strangers. Brilliant words, sentences formed and ordered in my mind somehow loose their way through the tangled synapses between grey cells to mouth and vocality. I can offend without knowing, sometimes indeed those ordered words don’t even make it to mouth. No public speaking is not a good idea.

I was persuaded by two facts, I knew two of the people in the group, not well but known. Also it was not going to be a talk but a normal discussion of a book, as in reading groups.

I belong to two reading groups.

I could do that

I did that.

I enjoyed it so much . The ladies all understood what the book was about. They didn’t necessarily like the future I imagined, but could see how it might happen. It was helped by the news of the three parent child that hit our headlines the same week. My genetic manipulations in the story made scary sense to them. I could point to the science my speculations had built on, the advances already in the wings awaiting the legality just granted British scientists, with the mitachrondria trials. Could show examples of the step by step advancement into the scary future. Allowed by the public because the steps seemed to offer so much.

We can so we do. Is the statement

One day, maybe

We can but should we? Will be the question

Ellen had done a good job with a dozen readers in that group, they want to read more. Maybe I now believe not all my friends were being kind, maybe I should believe them when they say they enjoyed the books.

 Since the talk I have been struggling with some kind of virus so haven’t done so much as usual.

However, I managed

Discovering freedom with yarn and Birds, books & more birds

Nest egg to Pandemonium and Writers Quote Wednesday

Finding old friends and a review on Mabinogion and Confessions.

and for those looking for the ROW80 update



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A disaster or progress for mankind?

This last week the British Parliament voted 382 to 128, to allow the ‘three parent family’.

Mitochondrial disease affects approx. 2,473 women in the UK.  Not many, you from larger populations may say, actually not many for us who only have 60 million people in the Islands.  But for each of those women there is the fact of either suffering themselves and or passing it on to their children.  It can only be passed on through the female line .  Men do not have this particular DNA.

A break through, a disaster, a travesty or progress?. The arguments split people into two camps.

The Mitochondrial DNA from a healthy donor (one without the disease) is transfered into the egg and the diseased DNA removed.  No worse than  normal IVF one would think.

Ah well, it is different, in that the new DNA will be transfered down through the generations. DNA from ‘three parents’ for all time.

Those for it say this will wipe out the disease as each new generation will be protected. Good news. The Scientists point out there are only37 genes involved as opposed to 20,00 genes from the parents.

Those against fear for unknown consequences later with the change in DNA permanent. Pointing out just a handful of damaged genes can cause problems.  They fear the changing humanity as we know it.

I manipulated the gene pool in The Sefuty Chronicles, because I truly felt that once scientists can do something remarkable they always will do it. Mankind doesn’t seem to able to stop.

But I am an author, it matters not if I change the DNA of humanity:) It is a story. No harm done. Back in 2012 during an A-Z challenge I wrote about transhumanisim and the scientist’s wish to improve all out lives and wondered then, who holds the brilliance to order. I still wonder but I can see no-one is yet.

The power of the new on our imaginations too powerful, always has been.

The wish to have a child too powerful a force to say – don’t do it adopt instead.

The increasing knowledge and intelligence? of mankind knows no master.

I shall miss the result of this latest experiment in our journey from the caves. Pity I would like to know how it goes.

In the meantime this week due to computer failure I have not blogged much but you can find the connection between ballroom, acapella and a town mayor, also my Monday Musing about art from old books and a quote from Chesterton.

For those looking for ROW80









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When researching is grim

I enjoy researching, and researching for a novel can be fun. Or not.

The current work in progress is the 4th in The Sefuty Chronicles, The Children’s Tale. It has proven difficult to write for various reasons, but the hardest I think has been because it is about the children. Children in the continual aftermath of a global war and consequent meltdown, the insecurity of life and the fresh outbreak of fighting.

I have three groups of children, roughly those, who are born to fairly secure backgrounds and history but living out in the war torn countryside, and who fear for their own future if order is not restored. Those who have inherited the fears and prejudices of the parents who had been part of the global conflict and are yet to learn trust. Then those who are part of the fresh wars, who are displaced and terrified.

I think all of us with imagination can to a certain extent project themselves into these positions; without homes, hope or help,feel how terrifying it might be. But no-one who hasn’t lived through it can truly feel it.

Impossible to write from these safe islands.

I am finding it so.

It maybe a work of fiction set in the next century but the basic fears and traumas are going to be the same as long as we are talking about humans (I cannot speak for extra terrestrial beings:)

I have been reading some grim books lately – first hand accounts of traumatized children refugees and abused women. Going distressingly far deeper than the graphic visions on the television screens.

How fragile the veneer of civilization when law and order breaks apart and disintegrates.

No this is not proving to be an easy book to write.

There are new posts on Kissafrog and albertaross and for those who want this week’s ROW80 update.

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war is nasty

A stray comment this morning over the breakfast table led the conversation from a piece of eggshell to the use of boiling oil in medieval warfare and endless questions and discussion of the whys and wherefores. It ‘s the kind of spin out of control thought process my friend from forever/editor and I enjoy. Plenty of flaws and questions to be found – oil/animal fat? – actually boiling/just hot? how could it be managed?we couldn’t see boiling anything would inflict much harm dropped from a distance, when the air around on the downward flight would serve to cool said repellent. Of course it had to be checked – and no, not oil but water and then not that often.  We like out myths to be as terrible as possible.  Anyway two old ladies enjoyed following their imaginations from the chip of eggshell to the dark ages, makes a good start to the day:)

I mention this only because the writing of the Sefuty Chronicles has necessitated me to carry out a great deal of research on ancient forms of warfare.  In a land of no modern machines and no fossil fuels fighter would have had to revert back to methods of attack our forebears used.

I have read some savage books over the past few years, in this research, which have mostly repelled me but also, oddly interested me. I am not a violent person at heart.  In the abstract I have been interested in the ingenuity and inventiveness of warfare, however, it only needs the vision of news from around the world to find the disgust and sorrow of that inventiveness. Wars are no longer great and noble adventures, if indeed they ever were.  No longer’ let us meet at daybreak on such and such moor and fight each other’s soldiers until sunset and then rest for the night’ affairs if indeed they ever were. Whatever the justification, whatever the classification – good war / bad war, – war is nasty.

Aside from thought from the breakfast table I have had a gentle week – discussing journal covers shared a smile or three on Three Thing Thursday here on kiss a frog,

Periodic sentences, Writer’s Quote Wednesday and Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If’

and joining in Musing Monday, – a book review,

and my update for Row80 can be found here





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fantastical kaleidoscope of alternative worlds

Just before Christmas I was given my orders! from friend from forever/editor. Time I produced another reworked fairy tale book! She likes them, and as she works long hours getting my dyspraxic books into order the least I can do is oblige.  It isn’t so easy, of course, to come up with 14 or so new short stories,  Nothing happens overnight.

  I do so enjoy a bit of fantasy. There is a whole raft of sub divisions here – of course! Grrr. Some of my friends say my whole mind is full of fantasy, others find that strange, as I do not present this facet as I stride (hobble) the world.

I am of a scientific bent, I do not believe in ghosts or anything paranormal. Magic tricks? Nope. Mind reading? Nope. Zombies and werewolves forget them, as for  vampires – come on now, cannibalism has been around ever since we have, so some folk like the taste of blood:)

Although I wished to be able, like Dr Dolittle,’ to converse with animals, I study them instead and try not to impose my perceptions on them. For every report of the supernatural my mind is examining and analyzing the reason and logic behind. As I say

Look at me and see, sensible.

Look and see unimaginative.

See unromantic.

However peer through a lens, my mind is a completely fantastical kaleidoscope of alternative worlds, weird happenings and magic.

Don’t believe everything you see.

My fancies can spin, away from reason and normality,into the realms of crazy in a nano second. I love doing it. So where does that leave me? I genuinely believe there is a rational explanation for everything and if we don’t know it now we will someday. Ever since I could tell the differences between ‘real’ and ‘story’ I have been thus. However, running alongside rationality I enjoy a good story, of whatever type or style. I am always willing to suspend belief for a few hours if it is a ‘story’ a ‘tale’

 I find I enjoy the writing of such concoctions, although I cannot help lacing them with reality.

I have begun the new collection this week and also I have posted an eclectic mix of memoir and weekly smiles,also quotes, proverbs, & ROW80 update ,and Politicaly Correct reading!


(Part of this was blogged 3yrs ago elsewhere)

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Mainly blogging and tweeting



Still not fully into writing in that I haven’t touch The Children’s Tale since before Christmas.  I have been brooding over it, writing it in my head and composing new dialogue in my imagination.  Over the past week I have also drafted two short stories to write up In May.  so not entirely idle!

I have been blogging and the results can be seen here where I have posted for 3 Thing Thursday and about Scrumbles and art journals, also here where last years reading challenges and this years attempt at the same are discussed.  Over here I have posted another short piece on words and a quote from Rudyard Kipling as well as my ROW80 update.

I have also started up a second twitter account for readers and writers and all to do with them, so if anyone would like to join in and follow the 2nd account is @al_berta_ross The more the merrier.


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Late but wishing you happy 2015 + why do we say. . . ?

The air around is noisy with happy new year salutations – hopeful resolutions and new beginnings. I gave up years ago making ‘resolutions’ working out, oh so slowly, that the minute I vowed to do something I immediately wanted to do the opposite.

I make goals now, set challenges, which matter not if I finish. This old lady has learnt.

However, I do find it very heartening that we have this wish to begin afresh each year. That we are still able to view the way ahead with hope and optimism.

If we succeed in keeping new resolutions then well done, but not succeeding in keeping them and turning over those hopeful leaves is not a problem it is the not starting at all, that is the pity. Hope springs eternal etc maybe cliched but stays around because it’s true – hope for better things is what puts the smile on face and the spring in the step.

 I have goals for my writing this year which can be found on ROW80 . I have also begun a series on English words, idioms, sayings, etc and in the future some of my heroes of the English language, which promises to be interesting.

 Impossible challenges for reading, I am something of a book junkie.

 For my other blogs I have joined a couple of weekly shorts and hope (you notice it is not a promise:) to blog more often on all subjects I’m interested in. Including a couple of life challenges in the craft and exercise areas.

 In the meantime here’s wishing you all a good 2015

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