Sunday, November 29, 2009

It Must Be Nearly December

- because the usual tirade decrying  Christmas tradition  is being uttered.

Sadly, the current round is from an Anglican Bishop........ Once all the things he opposes are removed from the C of E, it might as well be a pagan religion......


Traditional carols are 'nonsense', says bishop

Some traditional carols are “nonsense” and have turned Jesus into a Father Christmas figure, according to a leading bishop.

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent

Published: 8:30AM GMT 29 Nov 2009  Daily Telegraph website

Away in a Manger cannot be sung “without embarrassment”, Once in Roy al David’s City is “Victorian behaviour control”; and O Come, All Ye Faithful is misleading, said the Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Rev Nick Baines.

He blamed the much-loved carols for adding to confusion over the season’s real meaning and turning Jesus into a figure as fictitious as Father Christmas.

While others defended the traditional songs as “joyful” and “triumphant”, the bishop complained that the carols have contributed to the story of Christ’s birth being seen “as just one more story alongside the panto and fairy stories”.

In a new book published by the Church of England, Why Wish You a Merry Christmas, the bishop argues that carols encourage images of Christmas that have more to do with Victorian sentiment than the Biblical account of Christ’s birth.

“I always find it a slightly bizarre sight when I see parents and grandparents at a nativity play singing Away in a Manger as if it actually related to reality,” he said.

“I can understand the little children being quite taken with the sort of baby of whom it can be said 'no crying he makes’, but how can any adult sing this without embarrassment?”

He said that Jesus would be abnormal if he had not cried as a baby. “If we sing nonsense, is it any surprise that children grow into adults and throw out the tearless baby Jesus with Father Christmas and other fantasy figures?” He continued: “Once in Royal David’s City has Jesus as 'our childhood’s pattern’ — even though we know almost nothing of his childhood apart from one incident when he was 12 years old and being disobedient to his parents — and invites children to be 'mild, obedient, good as he’, which means what, exactly? This sounds suspiciously like Victorian behaviour control to me.”

While the bishop praises the ability of some carols to excite and capture the Christmas message, he cites O Come, All Ye Faithful as a prime example of inaccuracy.

The bishop said it was not the “faithful” who went to see the baby Jesus and his parents but shepherds, who are the “great unwashed” and the wise men, who were “not good Jews, but were pagans, men who were outside the covenant people of God”.

“Some of the traditional carols perpetuate images of Christmas that have more to do with Victorian sentiment than the story we actually read in the Gospels,” the bishop said in the book.

Ralph Allwood, director of music at Eton College, said some carols may be nonsense, but they are also joyful and triumphant. “They bring a smile to people’s faces. There’s nothing wrong with feeling like children at Christmas,” he said.

O Come, All Ye Faithful became popular in the 18th century, but may have been written earlier, while Once in Royal David’s City and Away in a Manger were published in 1848 and 1885 respectively.

The bishop also blamed Nativity plays that introduce snakes and grizzly bears, as having responsibility for “relegating the story to fictional fantasy”.

By “romanticising the festival and commercialising our culture” Christmas has become “tame, fantastic and anaemic,” he said. “Bring back the reality. Perhaps we need to recover the nativity play as something to be done by adults for children and not the other way round.”

Christmas can still offer deep meaning and joy if people learn the real story, the bishop argued.

About 40 per cent of adults are expected to attend church over Christmas, based on figures for previous years.

The Church of England has seen a rise in worshippers at Christmas over the past decade. In 2007, three million attended an Anglican service over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
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Did I Mention....

The chocolate dipped strawberries that came with the cheese board ?
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A Challenge !

Now this is a serious challenge to all you poets.......

This article, which I am reproducing in full in case it "moves", was originally published in The Guardian newspaper site

Enjoy !!  I hasten to add that I would struggle to do this in English, let alone in Welsh, at which I am but a woefully inadequate dysgwyr (beginner)  ........


Poster poems: Englynion
Britain's equivalent of the haiku is your challenge this time, with a number of fiendish variations available

It's short, based on strict rules of syllable count, and British; in fact the englyn (plural form englynion) is among the oldest indigenous verse forms in the Welsh tongue, dating back at least as far as the 9th century Juvencus Englynion, a verse paraphrase of the Gospels.

So, why aren't englynion as popular with contemporary poets as the haiku? Well, the first problem that faces the would-be englynist is that it isn't a single fixed form. The earliest englynion, for instance, are written in three-line stanzas, each line of seven syllables, with a single end rhyme, thus:

_ _ _ _ _ _ a

_ _ _ _ _ _ a

_ _ _ _ _ _ a

This is the form known as the englyn milwr.

Straightforward enough, you might think. There is, however, another three-line version, the englyn penfyr, with a more elaborate rhyme scheme. In this form, the first line is 10 syllables long, and the second and third are seven syllables each. The final word of the first line must be polysyllabic and must rhyme with the first word of the second line. The second and third lines have end rhyme:

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ a

a _ _ _ _ _ b

_ _ _ _ _ _ b

The rhymes can be full or you can use assonance or alliteration. Easy, isn't it?

The three-line englyn soon evolved into a four-line stanza, an evolution that can be seen in the well-known Englyn on Padarn's Staff. Of course, these quatrains wouldn't be englynion if they didn't come in all kinds of shapes and forms. Perhaps the most common is the englyn cyrch, four seven-syllable lines of which lines one, two and four rhyme and the end of line three has an internal rhyme in line four:

_ _ _ _ _ _ a

_ _ _ _ _ _ a

_ _ _ _ _ _ b

_ _ _ b _ _ a

The englyn lleddfbroest also has four seven-syllable lines, rhyming a-a-a-a. Naturally, this is far too easy, so the rhymes have to be on dipthongs (in Welsh, ae, oe, wy, ei). The englyn proest dalgron follows an almost identical pattern, except that the syllables with the dipthongs are consonant rather than rhyming. The englyn proest gadwynog seeks to combine these two forms, dropping the dipthong requirement and having lines one and three rhyming and lines two and four consonant. There are two further four-line englynion, the englyn unodle crwca and the englyn unodle union, but please don't ask me to explain them!

If the englyn is the British equivalent of the haiku, then the great Welsh poet Dafydd ap Gwilym is its Basho. However, it would be a mistake to imagine that the form is dead, a relic of some distant medieval past. It is very much alive and current in Welsh poetry and a number of English-language poets have tried their hands at it. For example, Richard Caddel's Nine Englynion is clearly based on the Juvencus form, with the syllable count retained but the rhyme pattern dropped.

And so this month's challenge is to add to the body of English englynion. You may want to stick rigidly to one or more of the traditional variants, or you may, like many western haiku writers, take a more flexible approach. The choice is yours, but one way or another let the englynion roll
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Say Cheese !

The beautifully presented cheese and fruit platter for our table.....

Not so tastefully transformed by DD4 into a cheese mountain........   :-)
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Some Funnies From The Wedding

Unfortunately, it was only after DoomHamster finished her dessert that I noticed the lovely swirled chocolate tracery on her plate......

The 15th century medieval Hall where the Reception was held.......


And becasue it was a major International Rugby match - Wales Versus Australia - once the speeches etc were safely over, by popular request, the live TV coverage of the match was screened in the hall for our enjoyment...... but Wales lost, 33-12. It didn't dampen our spirits, though.......
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If you would like to see wedding photos,  email me and I will either send you some privately or give you the link to the private Photobucket album where they are on display.

I do not have consent of family members and guests to put their photos on a public forum, and I would prefer to preserve privacy and some degree of anonymity.

 I hope you will understand........
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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wrapped Up

63,038 words is the offical count for my first NaNoWriMo novel, "The Ballerina and the Bambino", which has been wrapped up today.

I will leave it for a few weeks before I start editing it and making sure it all makes sense :-)

What a crazy, crazy, utterly brilliant month !
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Scream 3

Edited to actually make some sense, LOL

I went shopping yesterday morning in an attempt to find suitable nice new dresses for DD 3&4. The problem is that nearly all the shops now are only stocking their " make children look like drunken hookers  clothes" , um ....   tacky Christmas outfits, the euphemistically  named   "partywear".

I managed to get two pretty dresses, one for DD4 which I knew would fit her well, and one for DD3 about which I was doubtful but it only cost £2.75 (seriously reduced on the sale rail!) and DD4 can always grow into it :-)
I then went to another shop and saw two  more dresses in the sale. These were slightly tackier, but man, I was desperate and running out of options, after all ........ and I can always take them back and get refunds as they haven't been worn..

When DD3 came home from school, neither of the dresses I bought for her would fit. Oh dear.
So we went to Plan B, involving a frantic trip to The Big City where Thursday is late night shopping.

So far so good.

We went to no fewer than 10 clothes shops and found nothing suitable. Absolutely nothing at all. Mercifully, at Shop 11, visited in desperation in the last ten minutes before we had to leave the shopping centres to head back to the bus station, we hit jackpot ! My new favourite shop is H&M :-)

I must single out Sales Assistants from Next and H&M who were incredibly helpful on the quest for DD3's new frock.

DD3 and I were delighted with her new frock and little shrug to match, so all we have to do today is find a pair of shoes to match. We got home at 9.45pm, utterly exhausted and bitterly cold, but we had the dress !

DH is at the dry-cleaner's right now to pick up my outfit, and I need to go to the florist to pick up our flower buttonholes at 5pm.

As far as we can be ready, we are ready.

The urge to scream is receding slightly......
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving !

Wishing you all a joyous and blessed Thanksgiving !!
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Bohemian Rhapsody By The Muppets

What more need I say ?

Sheer genius :-)

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Big Grin

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NaNoWriMo Snippets

I am currently on 59,624 words!
My hero is out of hospital and things are going far too well for my liking.....

Meg, if you want NaNo web badges, have a look here

Word count widgets are here.
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ahem Part 2


The Ahem post about Nano

has been updated to clarify the information.
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Praying For Wisdom

Dear peeps,

A possible job opportunity just may be rearing its head at the early part of next year. I cannot say more than that, but prayers for wisdom and discernment as to what would be best for us as a family would be much appreciated...............
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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Scream 2

DD4 is a fraction better, but now DD3 has gone down with high fever, headaches, shivering etc.

Ho hum.

One of the bridesmaids has been involved in a car accident, through no fault of her own. Mercifully she is uninjured.

I did ask DoomHamster tonight if it might not have been easier and less stressful if she and MrDH had just run away together to get married and have a party when they come back .......she's beginning to wish she had, now !
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Saturday, November 21, 2009


DD4 is poorly. She has a raging temperature, sore throat, sniffles, tummy ache. There have been several cases of Swine Flu in her school recently.
Does she have it? I don't think so, but cannot be certain.

One of DoomHamster's bridesmaids definitely does have it.

Oh joy.

Hopefully they will both be fully recovered and non-infectious by the end of the week, as the wedding is on Saturday 28th ....... and the bride and groom are off to Prague on honeymoon on 30th.

I shall go and scream quietly in the corner now.
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Priest Martyred

I was distressed to read this article at Interfax:

Memory Eternal to Fr Daniil

20 November 2009, 13:57

Moscow priest could have been killed by extremists, pagans – sources

Moscow, November 20, Interfax - Moscow priest Daniil Sysoyev most likely has been killed for his missionary activity among the non-Orthodox Russian population, a source at law enforcement agencies told Interfax.

"He had recently received constant death threats from some extremist organizations. Daniil Sysoyev complained about it several times to the Federal Security Service," the source said.

Fr. Daniil said he received anonymous phone calls and e-mails promising to "have his guts for garters," he said.

"Sysoyev received the last threat in early October. Someone called him and said he had been sentenced to a death penalty," the source said.

Rev. Daniil is known as an experienced theologian who had been in constant dispute with the extremist branches of Islam. He began receiving threats four years ago after holding a public debate with Vyacheslav Polosin, the former Orthodox priest who converted to Islam.

Fr. Daniil might also have been killed by members from the so-called sect of Rodnovers (Slavic Neo-pagans), the source told Interfax.

Investigators are following all lines of inquiry but this theory remains the main one, he said.

This is evidenced by the fact that the perpetrator did not leave the weapon at the crime scene, he said. "Rodnovers are not professional killers, which is why they count every barrel," he said.
The Rodnovers organization mainly consists of young pagans.

Earlier Rodnovers staged an explosion at one of Moscow's churches
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ahem !

Updated to add:

Meg, that is only a provisional count.
If you want to do it, log in to your NaNoWriMo account,
then go to Edit User settings.
then Edit Novel Info Tab,
at the bottom of that page is the Word count Validator.
If you copy and paste your Opus Magnus into that, it will calculate your word count for you.
You still need to do it again offically after 25th November, but it will tell you now if you have reached your 50K target :-)


May I direct your attention to the widget below ?

I am so landed.

I never thought I would manage to complete NaNo and I HAVE DONE IT !!!!  The story is nowhere near ended, and I will carry on writing it , but :

Doing the Happy Dance.

I would be doing an even Happier Dance if dear Elizabeth is able to find a suitable home for herself and Cleo, though !
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


47, 023 words.

Perhaps it hasn't been such a bad NaNo day after all :-)
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The Burning Pen !

679 words in 20 minutes !

 That has to be my current writing record :-)

Find out how fast you can write with Write Or Die !
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Weather Woes

The weather remains truly dreadful.
High winds and torrential rain woke me in the night, and I could not get back to sleep, which was annoying. And then I overslept. The drive still cannot be concreted until the weather settles considerably.

It has been one of those days.

I have achieved fourof the tasks on my daily list, but not my NaNoWriMo target. I have only managed 500 words today instead of the 1700 minimum I try to adhere to. But, DD3 asked for pancakes for tea, so pancakes it was.
As I only have one pan, it does take rather a long time, but it was well worth it to have her follow me into the kitchen and we had undisturbed chatting time so she could tell me about her day whilst DD4 was happily occupied playing a game.

NaNoWriMo can wait, and I have done 45,000 words anyway, with 12 days still to go  :-)
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The Beatitudes

from the monks at Valaam.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Manic Monday

Well, I hope it will prove to be calmer than the weekend !

Friday, the builders came with a wonderful mini-digger to rip up the drive and the pathway to the house, prior to resurfacing. And then the rain came. And it rained. And rained. The drive and the path were reduced to gloop. And that was the only access point to the house. We ended up tottering along planks of wood, LOL.

Then the 80mph winds started to howl around the house like Wuthering Heights. With even more rain. As an added bonus, we had hailstones and  lightning. I have to say, it was good to be safely holed up indoors, with the wood-burning stove alight, listening to the elements battling outside !

In the midst of the dramatic weather, DoomHamster and fiance arrived to ponder over seating plans for the wedding reception, which is now less than two weeks away. Much was agreed, but we do still have a few problems to iron out, namely where to sit one fundmamentalist Christian, one outspoken unreconstructed pagan and a scattering of same-sex friends whose lifestyle is not in  keeping with the Church, and we have both our wonderful Parish priest and my equally wonderful godbrother who is a priest-monk attending too.

On Sunday, we had two sets of rainbows, much to the delight of the littlies and me.

It was also the 87th birthday of my mother's wonderful neighbour and friend, John.  He is alert, active and an inspiration to us all, and we all love him dearly. He has no children of his own, is widowed, and we made a special point of getting him a really nice card proudly emblazoned with "To a very special Uncle" from DD3&4, and Mum said that he was tickled pink with it.  He also had cards from DD1, DD2 and us, of course.

Oh, and NaNo ! Just when you thought you might escape without an update, I am now up to 40,029 words. I nearly killed off my hero's wife but thought better of it at the last moment. :-)
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Armistice Day Part Two

Unfortunately, it is not possible to embed this video/music clip here , but it moves me to tears each time I hear it.
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Armistice Day

Today is the eleventh day of the eleventh month, and is Armistice Day.

For the last ten days, many people have been wearing their bright red poppies pinned to their lapels or in their coat buttonholes. I have been one of them, and so have my children. We wear our poppies with pride.

We have had many members of our family who have served Sovereign and Country in the Armed Forces, going back five or six generations which I know. Even in this generation, we have several serving relatives, and we are proud of them.

Becuase of work comittments, I was not sure whether I would be able to make it to our town centre, where the two minute silence would be observed at the eleventh hour......  I made it with a minute or two to spare, by dint of walking very quickly indeed, and I was glad to have made the effort, despite the bitter and numbing cold and the threatening rain.

Between 250 and 400 people were there, by my reckoning, and amongst them were quite a few youngsters in their twenties, as well as a number of people my own age and the bulk of the attendees were 60+.

It was a privilege to participate in paying  public tribute to those brave men and women who willingly sacrificed their lives for freedom and in the pursuit of peace.

It is a staggering fact that since the cessation of the Second World War, there has only been one single year in which no member of the British Armed and Merchant Services has been killed in conflict.

May they rest in peace , and Memory Eternal to each and every one of them.

"We Will Remember Them"

May God have mercy on us all........
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Halfway House

Quite literally :-)

My NaNoWriMo novel is now a fraction over the halfway stage, with 25,112 words. Even if I don't manage to write a single word more, I feel I have achieved something.

The builders have finished re-roofing the kitchen and are busy contructing the rear garden wall, but the weather has turned very inclement today, which has delayed things.

There has been mixed news about Stellan; his surgery seems to have been very successful in restoring a normal heartbeat, but there have been complications with regard to the bloodflow to one of his legs, so he and his family are still in much need of prayers.

DD1's wedding preparations are going apace, but she is still pondering over bridesmaid dresses. Only  18 days till her wedding, gulp...........
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Monday, November 09, 2009

Last NaNo for today.....

... I promise !

 Up to 23,050 words now. If all goes well, tomorrow should see me break the half-way point.
I have decided my hero will survive his attack by would-be kidnappers. I don't fancy writing anything too sad at the moment.

I am only checking for updates about Stellan on MckMama's Twitter feeds. He is having surgery as I type. Lord have mercy.

I am off now to pray  two Kathismata from the Psalter, then phone my mother, and then chill out with the young ones. I did all the errands that needed to be done today, and the builders are progressing steadily with their work. All looking good !
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Dear friends,

 Baby Stellan is very seriously ill. Please pray for this dear little one year old boy.

Updates at MckMama's site.

Kyrie, eleison ........................
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Nano'd Out

I am plumb tuckered out.

Nano is going swimmingly well, I am up to 22,013 words as of this morning.
But I am so tired !  I wake in the night with odd plot thoughts, and then run through possible scenarios. I find myself not day-dreaming, exactly, but the characters are almost becoming alive in a bizarre way.

 I'm not sure whether I am projecting some wishful thinking self-projection fantasy onto these characters, or what, but I am really quite enjoying the story I am writing. It is completely barking mad, of course,  with plot holes through which you could drive a ten ton truck, but that's an editing problem, not a writing problem :-) It is not too labour-intensive; my average 2000 words takes about two hours because my typing skills are poor (cough ) non-existent but the buiness of plotting seems to seep and permeate all my thought processes throughout the day.

Needless to say, DH has worked wonders and I am now happily sitting at the big computer with a big keyboard, happily tootling around with my beloved Windoze XP. As an added bonus, he has installed the bundled Word 2007/Office Suite onto the machine for my delectation.

We have the builders in at present, working hard, so my writing is punctuated by loud budgie squawks and banging and clattering from outside. I have donations to send off to charity from various folk in memory of my brother this afternoon, so I must reluctantly close my Nano window and re-enter the real world :-)

I know I need to stop fiction writing when I find myself complaining under my breath that Blogger doesn't have an inbuilt word count facility.... !!!
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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Praying For Stellan

Prayers needed !

Dear little Stellan is in hospital, awaiting a dangerous cardiac ablation surgery.

Please keep him and his loving family in your prayers during this week..........
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Sheer Beauty

This was forwarded to me in an email from a friend.
I have no idea who the photographer may be, but what an astounding, wonderful image !!!
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Friday, November 06, 2009


Up to 14,500 NaNo words as of last night.

But I can't type for long periods on my webbook as the keyboard is so tiny.  I have not managed a single word today, due to lack of computer access.

And I am getting twitchy. I have really, really enjoyed my writing time each day, and am missing it lots.

I hope we get a partially functioning machine back by tonight. Just enough to be able to use a word-processsing program with a full sized keyboard..........
DH is putting in sterling work on the recalcitrant machine.

He needs a medal !
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Windoze 7

DH is fed up of the non-stop hassle we have had with the computer since we installed the aberrant OS.

He is busy re-imaging the computer, and even this has been adversely affected by 7.

We may not even be able to salvage enough of the hard drive of the machine to put back Windoze XP, which we love.

DH did tell me lots of complicated details which I cannot remember and did not completely understand in the first place, but basically at the moment, it looks like the machine is marginally more alive than a dodo....

Aaaaagh !
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It  was with immense sadness that I read of the passing of Phillippa's Mom.
Memory Eternal !
My heart goes out to Phillippa and her family........

An 11 year -old  friend of DD3's has today buried his grandfather.

Baby Stellan is in Boston, facing potentially life-endangering cardiac surgery.

So many people in distress and heartache and anxiety, so many needing our prayers.

Kyrie, eleison.
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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

NaNo Update

10,007 words. A fifth of the way to the total.

I am speechless.
 I have never, ever written this much fiction in my life. Non-fiction, yes, at University,  but not things from my imagination..... !!
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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

NaNo WriMo Update

8179 words written to date !

Remember though, that this is a work of fiction, written on the fly, with no research, no editing, no polishing. And certainly no skill, LOL ! I just want to see if I can do it :-)

All I am hoping is that by the end of the month, I will have completed 50 000 words which I can then use as a basic first draft for refining into a readable format.

 I have a sneaking suspicion that writing it will be the easy part. Editing it so it makes sense and won't bore people to death is going to be far more difficult.........
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Monday, November 02, 2009

NaNo Update

5140 words ! Woo hoo !
I am a tenth of the way there :-)

And because pride always goeth before a fall, I will probably have monumental writer's block .............. but at least I have had a go !
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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Safely Home !

DD3 has returned safely from scout camp.

She had a wonderful time, even if several pairs of socks and one pair of trousers are irredeemably filthy. One old pair of trainers bit the dust, with broken soles and got soaking wet for good measure.....

Pretty much par for the course, I reckon.....
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NaNo Update

So far today, I have written  2047 words. Only 48 000 to go.

 Already the story has developed a life of its own, and I have absolutely no idea what will happen next :-)

But that is part of the fun of writing......
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