Black Swan Smackdown – TWTW # 21

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I feel a little like I’ve been running around a lot this last week. Ruled to some extent by the timings of appointments with my Mum’s doctor and with our vet, for Wilson. Just one of those weeks, and the upcoming one is looking like being a little similar, although with a different set of appointments and people to see and places to be.


On Tuesday I walked down to the creek to see if the Mute Swans that nest there had hatched any cygnets yet, and I was treated to a bit of a surprise. Here’s what I wrote on Instagram:

This Black Swan got a little too close to the nesting Mute Swan pair, and kept coming back despite being chased off by the Cob a couple of times previously.

The Cob eventually went all in and pursued the Black Swan up on to the mud where he pinned it to the ground and then proceeded to attack, pecking at the back, neck and head of the Black Swan. It was brutal to watch and went on for several minutes. Here’s the last 30 seconds where the Black Swan managed to escape and appears to be okay.

Nesting Mute Swans are very territorial and won’t tolerate other swans on their “patch”. The female is still sitting on the nest, no sign of chicks yet.

The video is below, it’s a bit blurry because I was so far away, but you get the gist of what was going on.


I’ve been watching Jo and Michael’s travels on their narrowboat on YouTube for a while. They posted this video yesterday of their crossing of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (best watched full screen).


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I’ve been reading “The Sixteen Trees of the Somme” by Lars Mytting this week. It’s probably one of the best books I’ve read this year so far and I thoroughly recommend it. It’s a little different to my normal fair, and although there is a mystery at the heart of the story it is much more about the characters and the people.

 

 

 


img_20190607_155746699I also got sent some surprise back-catalogue books from my friends at Elliott & Thompson Books. I haven’t had a chance to properly look at them yet but hope to get to them later this coming week.

 

 

 

 


How do authors earn a living


Six Weeks, One Hundred Miles of Walking in Japan


That’s about it for this week, I’m hoping to get my tomatoes set-up in the potting shed this week at some point, and there are several other things that I’d like to get done in the gaps in my diary. We’ll see how that goes!

 

Post A Day Review

I’ve been doing this post a day thing for nearly three weeks and I wanted to take stock of some of the things I’ve learned, and review where I go from here. There’ll be a final post tomorrow (my fourth quarter review), and probably one on January 1st, what happens beyond that I’m undecided.

I know a couple of bloggers / writers who post everyday, and mostly what they post I enjoy reading. Although I’ve managed to find something to post myself everyday for the last three weeks, it has felt a little bit forced on some days – like I’ve had to find something to write about because I said I would – so I don’t think it’s been my best writing. Although I like the discipline of making myself write / post something everyday.

Some days I’ve fallen back on posts that would happen anyway e.g. Quick Links, which go out every Monday anyway, and I’ve been quite glad of them, although obviously those are written too.

I’ve often written posts a day or two before they actually go live, so it’s not been as spontaneous as I would have liked, but it was the only way I could actually make a post a day. Although I like knowing that a scheduled post will appear around 7am (GMT) everyday.

I’ve posted things that I might otherwise not have made it onto the blog. Mostly I think this has been good.

I’m erring towards not continuing to post everyday, but perhaps posting more frequently –  e.g. three times a week – than I have been. I’m not sure though whether I can be disciplined enough to do this though, or will forget. For now I’m just going to see what happens, rather than try and force something that might end up being less than perfect.

What do you readers think, let me know via the comments below, and in the meantime I wish you all a very happy New Year.

 

Export Highlights From Your Kindle

I highlight a lot on my kindle, particularly when I’m researching a particular topic or just to highlight particularly inspiring passages for future reference.

Now there’s a great “new” feature on Kindle which now allows you to directly export your highlights via email, and receive them as both .pdf and csv files. There have been ways to do this via http://kindle.amazon.com for a while now, and your highlights are still stored there, but this is a more direct service.

Firstly you need to make sure you’re running the most recent version of the kindle OS on your device (I’ve got a Kindle Paperwhite, and it’s now running ver. 5.8.2).

In a book that you have highlights, tap at the top of the screen to bring up the Menus, then tap “Go To”:

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On the next screen tap “Notes”:

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Then tap “Export Notes”:

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And then finally tap “Send”:

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As you’ll see from the image above this sends the notes to your Amazon email address, and you should end up getting an email that looks something like this:

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The pdf is a nice little document in it’s own right and the CSV file, allows for easy transfer from a spreadsheet to other places e.g. the research folder in Scrivener.

This is a great feature, and one that I feel I will be using a lot, particularly for background research.

2014 Review and a Look Ahead

I don’t tend to do review of the year posts each year, sometimes I’ll take a theme and just cover that, other times I won’t bother at all. The latter is more often the norm. 2014 however has been a “bit of a year” for me. So I thought I’d just write out a few highlights and one or two low bits too for good measure.

Work

I’d say that the year as a whole has been backdropped by work-life balance, with the balance being unevenly tilted towards work. I’ve had to reapply for my job as part of a restructure, and it’s been pretty full on. I’ve been offered voluntary redundancy twice (and we’re just going for a third round now), I’ve not applied on both occasions, but am giving the third time some serious consideration.

Life

On the life side of the scale it’s been a tiring year. I’ve done far less, due to pressures of work than I would like. I’ve noticed that I’ve been far less present on social media platforms, as well as reading less books and generally having less time for relaxation.

We lost Sparky our elder dog back in March, and then got Ruby at the end of June. I still miss Sparky every day, and things still feel very empty without him around. Wilson has taken well to being the older dog, and I’m really pleased and impressed with the way he’s turned out into such a well rounded dog.

Allotment

The allotment has been going along quite happily, it’s not been the best of years, but it’s been far from the worst, and I’m setting a good basis for next year. I’ve managed a few video posts, and have a year ending one to go up, as soon as it’s posted to YouTube.

Books

As I mentioned I’ve read far less than I have done in previous years, mainly due to having less free time. I would however single out a few books I’ve read (I read these in 2014, but they may not have been published this year) to mention here:

The House of Dolls by David Hewson – There’s no such thing as a  bad book by David Hewson, and this new series set in Amsterdam has all the hallmarks of being fantastic. This first in the series is excellent and I look forward to reading the next one, hopefully in 2015.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – This took me back to my childhood and the computer games that I used to play.

The Burning Room by Michael Connelly – The latest Harry Bosch, and a great addition to the canon, and likely to be a milestone step in the series. I’m not sure where Michael Connelly is going next here, but there are a number of options, and again I look forward to the next in the series. (I also loved the Amazon pilot of Bosch, and can’t wait for the full series).

Films

Again, a few to single out (and again I watched them in 2014, but they may have been released before that year):

Dawn  of the Planet of the Apes – Only recently watched this, but I loved the direction that the movie went in following on from the previous one, and abandoning the Charlton Heston era movies (and the awful Mark Wahlberg remake).

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – I love the Marvel movies (and the comic books too), and I’ve seen a few others this year as well; Thor: The Dark World and The Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s a close choice between Capt. and Guardians, but again, I think the way that the story and characters have been bought on since the first Captain America movie, plus Avengers: Assemble give this one the edge.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Loved this. Wasn’t sure that it would ever work as trilogy of films, but it does. Looking forward to the final film too, although that will be a 2015 watch for me.

Godzilla – A remake that remain truer to the original and a great film.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – I’ve never read the books, but love the films, again looking forward to the final two parts of this series too.

And Looking Ahead to 2015?

I’m not sure what 2015 holds. More upheaval at work I expect, and I need to make a decision about voluntary redundancy again. There will also be more  books to read and more films to watch. I don’t really do resolutions, but I’ve got a few aims for 2015.

  1. Be more balanced of temper. I think in part 2014 has been characterised by me having a shorter fuse than usual. I’m not happy about this, so want it to change. More counting to ten I suspect in 2015.
  2. Better work – life balance than above.
  3. Read more, although be realistic about what’s achievable. I also want to get through the “To Be Read” backlog mountain. Although I’m not setting any firm systems in place to do this as I have in the past.
  4. Have a good year on the allotment, and try to keep a better photo and video record of what’s going on there.
  5. Write more. Both blog posts, but also get back into writing properly.

There are lots of other things in my head (you could always add; lose weight, be fitter etc) but the above are the main aims.

The Drop by Michael Connelly – Researching Room 79

Yesterday I posted my review of Michael Connelly’s, The Drop. While I was doing a bit of internet surfing and research for my next novel I came across a YouTube video that shows some insight into the research that Connelly did for his book. I thought I’d share it.

It’d be great to have this sort of access for my own research, but it’s a fantastic insight.

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Work In Progress

After approximately thirty-five thousand words, my novella is finished. Well not finished exactly, there is still a considerable amount of work to do before you’ll be able to download it to your favourite e-reader or get a paper copy. Probably about another month to go before you can do that.

The Christmas break helped me finish the bulk of the writing, and versions have been passing back between myself and my editor, honing the words. We’re nearly there, and then there’s cover art, proper formatting for converting to ebook format etc. It’s close, just not quite there yet.

I’ll be setting up a dedicated page here soon with more details, and also some of my research pictures and other things to hopefully whet the appetite. I’ll also post the relevant links when publication day comes. If you’re interested to buy, I’m aiming to keep the price as low as I can, hopefully under £1.00, it’s a novella afterall, so should be a quick read that doesn’t break the bank.

More news,as and when it’s available.

Beach Hut

You could easily get bored of this, unless it was your choice.  Sitting day after day, in all weathers watching the tide come in and go out.  Between April and September is when the Council think it’s busy, because that’s when they open the toilets, but really it’s busy all year, just the people are different between October and March.

Day after day you can watch the people.  They come and they go, some together, others alone; Dog walkers, sun worshippers, some just taking the air.  They all look at the huts, some look at me in mine, the candy striped one, with the porthole, for effect.

I’ve seen a lot, blossoming love, arguments, indifference and dispassion.  The milk of human kindness and the scum of the earth, they all come here eventually.  One day they won’t because it will be gone, reclaimed by the sea long after I’m gone. Just the tide coming in and going out.