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I've been dithering about what to do with the novels I have lying around on my hard drive. A couple are finished and I have a bunch of other novels in various stages of completion. After a lot of pondering, I have decided that I am going to finish them and then self-publish. I don't have any plans at the moment to try to market them. I just want to be able to put a copy on my bookshelf and say, "I wrote that!" I've been through the being serious, polishing manuscripts for submission and even managed to get an agent (twice), but I never made it to the final stage of professional publication, so I'm not going down that road again.

Recently, I realised that I just don't want to be a professional novelist any more. I had been my ambition from a very young age, but back then it was possible to write a book, submit it, get it accepted and make a little money. Then you'd write another book, submit it, rinse and repeat. Now it's all pressure, pressure, pressure. You have to have a "break out novel", sell tens of thousands of copies and agree to 3 book deals with tight deadlines as to when the next book is due. I realised that, even assuming I could write something to please the modern market (very doubtful!), I would hate the deadline pressure. It wouldn't be good for me. For a while I thought I'd just abandon everything, until, finally, a glimmer of an urge to write returned and so I have set myself the goal of completing the first novel in the fantasy series and having it ready to publish by this time next year.

This is what I have to do:

  • Tidy up the first draft of the first novel in the series and complete any missing bits.

  • Revise it and have a cover designed so I can self-publish, either with Lulu or Lightning Source so I have a printed copy of my novel by my birthday next year (i.e. Late May).

This should be achievable if I actually sit down and get on with it instead of procrastinating. It's realistic because I have a more or less complete first draft, so we're talking mostly revision and filling in the gaps and I've written much faster in the past. It may not actually take a year, but if I do it more quickly, I can work on book 2 next and then 2 and 3 can be published simultaneously because book 3 stands alone and actually was finished years ago.

So that's the plan...

Current Mood: determined determined

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Yesterday we went on another reconnoitring trip for the geology book. We parked in the parking place for the Panorama Walk, but the spaces were mostly filled with minibuses from outdoor pursuits centres. There are some easy rock slabs nearby where they take kids to try their hand at abseiling and rock climbing.

We followed the steep lane up to the farmhouse at the end of the tarmac and then continued up a path, hoping to see traces of the manganese mines. The day was beautiful, with a clear blue sky and not too warm -- once we had finished climbing the steep hill, that is!

There was a glorious view to Fairbourne. You can see why the inhabitants are concerned about rising sea levels. They have been told that there won't be any extra sea defences built to protect their houses.

View over to Fairbourne

More photos behind here...Collapse )

At the top, we were rewarded with some spectacular views of the estuary, even better than from the Panorama Walk.

Mawddach Estuary

Gradually we made our way round in a circle and then back down to the steep narrow lane and thence to the car.

We had planned to eat lunch in the Last Inn in Barmouth, but as we passed, it looked absolutely seething. We had finished the walk rather earlier than expected, so we abandoned the idea of a cooked meal and instead drove to the seafront car park where we saw the air ambulance hovering. Fortunately I decided to park over by some other cars and not in the middle of the empty space, because once we had parked and climbed out of our vehicle, the helicopter proceeded to land in the car park!

It seemed to be a genuine emergency because while we were perusing the parking charges, an ambulance arrived.

Having decided that we weren’t paying £3.20 to park for an hour (it would have allowed up to a 4 hour stay, but we didn’t need that long), we drove on to the Co-op car park where we parked for free, bought sandwiches and proceeded to eat them on the beach.

I don't know what the paramedics were doing with their patient, but we'd finished our sandwiches and had a quick look at the little museum by the harbour before the helicopter took of, heading south across the bay.
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Walking home from the Welsh conversation group on Wednesday, I spotted this cat being indecisive.

Indecisive cat

I've actually photographed this cat before about 3 years ago.

Ginger & white cat
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I’m experimenting with some new journaling software. The recent LJ kerfuflle, just the latest in a long string of exoduses has led me to think about what I want from a journal and how best to achieve it.

Please don’t worry, I have no intention of leaving LJ, but things don’t last forever and as I have no intention of ever moving to DW, I needed a strategy.

I don’t seem to have been posting much recently, despite doing more things and going to more places. Partly it’s because by the time I’ve processed the photos, caught up with all the stuff I neglected and thought about writing a “proper” entry, we’ve done something else, which has produced more photos and more experiences to journal. Also, now I’m having more days out and trips away from home, some of it is a bit repetitive for people other than me to read, especially if the weather is a bit blah and I don’t take any decent photos. However, I do like to record stuff for me to look back on.

One possibility would be to just make private entries on LJ, but my philosophy has always been that if you don’t want the world to see something, don’t put it on the internet! My LJ has always been public and the only times I have made something private is because it’s just too boring for friends to see or it related to work and, even though I never named names, I wanted the extra layer of security.

After some thought, I realised that I basically wanted a private version of an LJ-like journal that would run offline on my computer. I had already rejected an old fashioned pen and paper journal because one thing I like to do occasionally with LJ is to look back at what I was doing 12 months, 2 years, 3 years ago, and therefore I wanted a calendar function. This ruled out the obvious solution of just using a Word document. I also wanted it searchable and having it on the computer means that entries worth posting to LJ can be easily copied and pasted into Semagic, given a light edit and then posted without having to type it all up. Besides, I type faster than I write.

So yesterday I did some googling...

Life Journal looked good and was quite a bit cheaper than the one I’ve actually gone with, but it looked too slick for my liking and the user interface was mostly black. I’m currently trying out The Journal 7 by DavidRM. It has what is probably now considered a slightly old-fashioned look, but it’s straightforward and functional and seems to do everything I want. There’s a lot of helpful information and articles on the website about how people have used The Journal for various things, including writing novels, so it looks like it might also replace the scrappy notebooks that I have lying around, full of story ideas that I then forget about!

I have 45 days to try The Journal for free, but after playing with it for less than an hour, I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying it, but I’ll probably post more as I start to work with it seriously.

Current Mood: reflective

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First mowing of the front grass has been achieved! We've had a long dry spell but rain is forecast for the coming week so I needed to get the very shaggy grass mowed before it got completely out of hand. I'd have done it sooner, but the sprained wrist has been too painful until recently and then of course we were away in London. Anyway, the front is now tidy, the back will have to wait for the next dry weather.

I mowed around the clump of grape hyacinths because they are pretty. We've also got a couple of yellow Welsh poppies blooming by the wall. I attempted to introduce these a few years ago and it seems they might, finally, be establishing themselves.

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

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I'm finding it difficult to keep up with our expeditions. By the time I've processed the photos and thought about writing up the walk, we've been somewhere else.

Anyway, after our first trip to Corris, on Tuesday we had another visit there but this time explored the old quarries on the other side of the valley.

We parked the car down a back lane, crossed the main road and set off up the track leading to the quarries. We'd only gone about 50 metres when we encountered a locked gate. However, the sign on the gate only said that stealing and tipping were prohibited, and as we intended doing neither of these things, we climbed over the gate and continued towards the quarries. I have to say that climbing gates is not easy with a sprained wrist[*], but I managed.

The track wended it's way up the steep hill, and soon we reached a level area with a winding drum. Here's the view looking up to the quarry.

Slate quarry

And here's an almost complete winding drum. You don't often find these in such good condition. Usually just the stone supports are left standing and the winding gear and cables have gone.

Winding drum

Another photo behind here...Collapse )

From here we followed this slightly precarious path across the face of the slate waste tip to the old quarry. (Viewed here looking back towards the winding drum.)

Slate path

Visiting the slate quarries in Abergynolwyn and Corris has brought home the fact that photographing a giant hole in the ground is next to impossible. You really cannot capture the sheer scale of it. That first photo only shows part of the quarry. The hole extends as far down as it does upwards. Anyway, we peered down into the giant holes and marvelled at them before cautiously making our way back down the Precarious Path and thence to the track leading back to the road.

On reaching the locked gate, as G clambered over it again, I noticed that the fence a little above and to one side had been broken down, so I just walked through! Much easier.

[*] The wrist I sprained when I fell in Cardiff is much better than it was, but it'll be a few more weeks before it's fully healed.
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Driving to the slate mines today, G said, "You remember that walk we did a while ago, Torrent Walk? Well just nearby there's an old iron furnace that was run by Quakers that is now a dormouse sanctuary." Then he paused before saying, "That sounds like something out of that Radio 4 panel show, what's it called?"

"The Unbelievable Truth," I said.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the panel show in question, the panel each write a short essay on a topic that must be entirely false apart from five true statements that they try to smuggle past the other panel members. If someone spots a truth, they buzz and if they're correct, they get a point. If they're wrong, they lose a point.

Current Mood: amused amused

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16/52 for the group 2017 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This week's theme was: Q is for Quintet

Why do people leave litter in beautiful places? How is it that they can manage to carry in the full beer cans but then suddenly become too weak to carry the empty cans away with them? This old campfire was near the slate mines we visited earlier in the week.

Burnt beer cans
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Does the fact that I found a lot of these questions difficult to answer mean that I'm more or less autistic than the score indicates? My overall score was 4, which is more autistic than a neurotypical male, but not high enough to count as autistic in the grand scheme of things. However, my social score was 3/20, which is between the autistic male and female scores, and the organisation and routine score (11/20) was equivalent to an autistic male. It was the sensory score that pulled me towards normal because it seemed to indicate that I was less sensitive than a typical person. However, I actually think the questions were badly worded, which made many of them impossible to answer.

I mean take the question: "I often notice small sounds when others do not."

How am I supposed to answer this question? I have no way of knowing whether someone has noticed a sound unless they comment on it. I often notice things and yet don't say anything about it, for example the slight sound of a fly buzzing around the room or the sound of someone mowing their lawn a couple of gardens away. Unless I feel the sound is significant, I won't draw attention to it. So if I hear things and don't think it's worth mentioning, then I assume others do the same. But there was no: "How the hell do I know whether they've heard it or not?" option.

And another question: "I would be able to taste the difference between apparently identical pieces of candy." Well, how do I know whether I'd be able to taste the difference? How different do they taste? Is one rum and butter and the other plain caramel? Or are they both caramel and made from very similar recipes? This question, as written, is unanswerable.

Current Mood: dorky quibbling

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Today, inspired by a post a friend wrote ages ago on Facebook, I made lemon curd in order to use up a couple of left over lemons. I've never made it before, but it certainly looks like lemon curd and licking the wooden spoon indicates that it tastes like lemon curd. I'm just hoping that it will set more when it cools properly, but I think I can call that a success.
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