Tag Archives: birthday

May the Fours be with you…

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Still putting one foot in front of the other, with three Weasels in tow…

It’s my forty-fourth birthday. Despite dire warnings regarding fruit and vegetables and the necessity thereof, I’m still here. Which is nice.

This summer has been long and very, very pleasant. We’ve had a visit from my parents and been out to see new places, as well as revisiting some old favourites. The Weasels have had independent adventure time, and plenty of family time too. Mrs Dim and I managed to take simultaneous vacations and discovered that we still like each other very much.

In past years I’ve put my books on sale and encouraged new readers to try them, but I think there’s enough misery in the world right now thanks to Brexit and the US elections, so instead I’m encouraging everyone to embrace the spirit of the Fours and review four books. ANY four books. Doesn’t matter if it’s a book you read last week, or your childhood favourite. Doesn’t matter if you post the review on Amazon, or on Facebook, or on a sheet of A4 pinned to the nearest telephone pole.

Reviews matter. They matter to the poor author who has torn their hair out arranging these 100,000 words into that specific order for your pleasure. They matter to other readers, who want to know if this is a book they should devote time to. And if Oprah and Richard and Judy and their ilk can influence entire countries to buy a book (“50 Shades” and “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” respectively) then you can encourage people too. Even if it’s just the author, relieved that someone has READ their book, thank you.

You don’t have to be a literary critic. You don’t have to analyse the beats of the plot, or the structure, or the effectiveness of the b-story. Did you like the book? Did it grip you from the beginning? Could you see it happening in your head as you read it? Did you want to read it right to the end? Were you sad when it was finished? These are the things people want to know about the books, not whether the symbolism was richly influenced by the pre-modernistic fiction of Northern France.

Summer’s pretty much done, and as Sean Bean is always here to remind us….

Image result for for England, James

Dammit, Sean, YOU HAD ONE JOB! Try again….

Image result for Winter is coming

Right. Thank you.

Yes, Winter is coming, so no more lying in a hammock reading books. Now comes the time for curling up in an armchair near the fire with books. It’s completely different.

So, may the fours be with you. Go FOURth and review books.

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Free stuff for the rest of the month!

Available NOW at Amazon!

“My Cosplay Disasters” is the first of several free e-books available this month.

August seems to be galloping past, and before long it’ll be my birthday again. Instead of demanding shiny things and an outrageous party, I thought this year I would give away a bunch of e-books, one each week, and only ask people to leave reviews on Amazon in return.

To be clear, I’m not asking only for GOOD reviews – I would like honesty. If you hated the book, or thought it was childish, then say so. Actually, I don’t think anyone would be surprised.

From Monday the 17th, “My Cosplay Disasters” will be free from Amazon. Next week, I think it’s “Tribute”, my awkward attempt to turn a stage musical I never finished writing into a YA novel. Then the week after that there’s another one, but I did all this late at night two days ago, and I can’t remember what the plan was.

Leaving a review can be a pain, but it really, really matters to authors. If you’ve read a book recently, try leaving a review on Amazon, or Goodreads, or your own blog or wherever. It’s ok to be honest, as long as you’re talking about the book and not taking potshots at the author’s personality or life choices. Your words could influence someone else, maybe help them discover a book they will love for the rest of their lives. Or maybe save them from a literary disaster.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the thank you letter I would have to write for the presents you would send:

Dear ________,

Thanks so much for the review you left for me for my birthday. It was a lovely surprise to see the notification pop up in my email and then the live review on Amazon.

I had a lovely birthday, with a late start and then a pleasant walk in the sunshine with dog and family, followed by lunch out and an afternoon movie back at home. It turns out forty three is a lot like forty two, but with less literary connections.

Hope you are well, and that we get to see you soon,

love,

Dim

I have to live like this so I’m able to live like this….

Nose to nose with Moose

What Moose did on Holiday...

I was going to call this post “Work/life/work balance” but then I saw the current title on a T-shirt worn by a customer at work. Much better, if more long-winded.

A long time ago, so long it was still probably before the Multiple-Weasel era, Mrs Dim and I were busy with stuff. There was work, and there were social events, and there were outside work hours commitments that we both had. So much so, that we rarely had time together of an evening. So we came up with Chinese Night. Every Friday, no matter what, we would get take-out, a decent movie and have an evening together. Six months later, we realised that however much we enjoyed the Chinese, we felt terrible the next day, and introduced Steak Night instead.

Steak Night has stood the test of time, and even made the transition to Canada. It’s actually survived longer than the demands on our time that made it so important. Even after four nights of slumping on the sofa, glassy-eyed in front of cable tv, we still got excited about Steak Night and debated hotly about what kind of movie to get.

And this is what I think of when people talk about work/life balance – I think about Steak Night. That was us, balancing our life against work with one precious night a week. It worked, more or less, getting us through the mad early days when Mrs Dim’s Career in the military was on the ascendent, and we had fencing classes, Theatre Club, Saddle Club, Families Club and so many other things to keep up with.

But now it’s my own work/life/work balance I’m struggling with. I don’t work a lot of hours at the World’s Largest Home Improvement Retailer, but I notice that when I’m not doing that, there’s a lot of other stuff to do. We’re renovating, so there’s the staircase to build, the flooring to arrange, the law suit to persue. There’s the regular raft of domestic duties to keep up with, sometimes complicated by the renovation (this week we’ve moved the washing machine down to the basement, which meant a mountain of washing appeared during the time it took to unplumb and re-plumb. Along with a huge bill from the plumbers. Like all renovators, we have more bills than a flock of geese right now, but it’s all in the plan. Or a plan.) That all comes under the heading of work, since I don’t intend for life to consist of washing socks, so Mrs Dim and I try to fit in time for walks, for trips out as a family (even for simple things, like walking Moose down the local trails.) We managed to give Mrs Dim a reasonable Birthday to compensate for the Mother’s Day Disaster (of which we do not speak..) so we are managing a reasonable work/life balance.

But like I said, it’s the work/life/work balance that’s been bothering me the past few days. I’m still a playwright, still a reviewer of plays, still the author of an e-book that is taking shape sooooo slowly but will be very, very good and just what you need if you’re considering writing a play for the Community Theatre Group near you. I know I am all these things, but to believe it, I have to DO some of those things. I’m not going to totally blame the outside influences of the real world – I know there are occasions when I’m in front of the computer and I fail to use them efficiently (for example, I’m blogging right now when I *could* be writing or reviewing. Reviewing is on today’s “to do” list. Blogging isn’t.) but I can’t help thinking longingly of those halcyon days only a few months ago when I would return from walking the Weasels to school and pile into some play reviewing before ticking some things off the domestic list and knowing all the time that tomorrow would be more of the same, not taken up with Greeting Duties.

This is, of course, another ungrateful whinge. The regular job is not demanding or difficult. I get time to think, I get to talk to all kinds of people and I have  new circle of friends. It allows me to keep collecting the weasels from school, and seems flexible enough to cope with the Summer Holidays and the occasional half-day holiday that the school springs on us. And let’s not forget, the wages allow other exciting things, like paying for the mortgage or weekly groceries. I need to remember that when I had all that luxurious time on my hands, I wasn’t much more productive than  am now, I just filled more time with Facebook and games. So, in amongst the phone calls, washing, reviewing and carpentry today, I shall be looking for balance.

Sandy Sun Diego…no, wait…er…

Mrs Dim and I have a differing view of holidays. There are all kinds of examples of this, but the one I’m thinking of right now has to do with the journey versus the destination. For me, the holiday doesn’t begin until you get there. For her, the holiday begins as soon as you leave your house. That’s not to say that as we step out the door, Mrs Dim becomes some serene, floating goddess of benign goodwill. No, she can be tense and stressed, just like the rest of us. But she’s tense and stressed because there are things to be done. She’s also able to occasionally raise her head above the noise and nonsense of travelling weasels and see the beauty around her. I’m not.

I mentioned in an earlier post how the emigration went by in a blur of things to worry about next. This journey, though less epic in many ways, was still a challenge. We had to get out of our house with all our kit and dog, then drive to Sister-in-law’s where we would drop the dog. She would then drive us on to the local airport where we would catch a small plane for the hop down to Seattle, and then transfer to a proper plane for the ride to San Diego. Once we got there (assuming all went well up to that point) we’d pick up our hire car and try to navigate our way through an unfamilliar city to find the holiday home. THEN I could relax.

And with the benefit of hindsight, I can honestly say the journey was not that bad. We chose the Linden US Border crossing because it’s quieter, and the guards were in a jolly mood, actually smiling and giving us directions to the nearest coffee shop. Mrs Dim’s Sister and her husband live in a beautiful house that they built in a rural area near Bellingham, and their house has been a welcome refuge on several holidays and smells of peace and relaxation, even when you add three weasels and a dog. They produced a brilliant lunch and then we hopped back in the car for the trip to the airport.

Compact and bijou is an overstatement for this little airfield, but it’s an International Airport now, I think, and we waited patiently in line at one of the three check in desks while the lady in front bemoaned the regulations that would not allow her to bring her ukelele on as carry-on luggage. The plane was a decent-sized turbo-prop effort, not the bi-plane with seats strapped to the wings that I had been fearing, and we’d barely reached cruising height before we were heading back down into Seattle.

There was time to eat there before hustling to the next flight – we had to ride the train system to reach the right gate, which meant we could claim this was a planes, trains and automobiles holiday – and the next plane was a jet, but there was no tv. The weasels were a little disappointed, but the views were good through the windows, and the fizzy drinks were free and plentiful.

By the time we landed at San Diego airport, I was pretty much done. I’d not found the book I was looking for at Seattle, so I’d spent the flight twiddling my thumbs and doing far too much thinking. But the queues were loooong for the rental cars, and it was dark night by the time we got strapped in and launched off onto unknown roads. Luckily the directions were good, and we reached the house with only one stop for milk and sandwiches as breakfast offerings.

The house is incredible. When I have the resources at my fingertips again I’ll include the link, because you should come and stay here. It’s palatial, so close to the sea it’s obscene, and the local cafe’s do amazing breakfasts. The place is clean, the beds are comfortable and there are all the conveniences of home (including wireless, hence the holiday post….)

I’m writing this on Wednesday, by which time we’ve had our acclimatisation day (cafe, beach, big tea) and Middle Weasel’s Birthday (late breakfast, LEGOLAND, big tea) and now they’ve left me to write while they head for the beach again. I have plays to work on, of course, and reviews I could be doing, but as soon as I’m done with this post, I shall be striding off to the beach after them – this is a family holiday after all, and whatever the differences in expectations Mrs Dim and I have about holidays, we both want them to be full-family affairs.

Pre-tea appetizers

What we ate on the balcony before we had tea on the balcony....