I are confuse

I’ve noticed something and I’m confused. A review I wrote in August is suddenly getting a lot of views (557 in October, November and December, 135 so far this month). I can’t think why, unless the book was released in the U.S. recently? That seems to be where a lot of the views are coming from. It’s unusual for any of my reviews to get this many views.


Personal stuff, Ignore if you aren’t interested.

Also, I have been crocheting a Willendorf Venus for a friend today and I’m supposed to be going to the Adult Autism Forum Cafe tonight. The topic is hobbies. I think I’ll take my Venus with me.

I had some trouble from a couple of the other people who go, the last forum and cafe were distressing for me, so my sister is going with me. Six months ago I told someone who couldn’t respect my boundaries that I wasn’t friends with them, then I treat them with the usual polite distance I have with most people. They, on the other hand, have been engaging in nasty pettiness and in November helped trigger a meltdown (haven’t had one in a couple of years), and have since recruited other people to harass and slander me as a bully at events.

People are weird.

The facilitators have been mixed in their response, one has been incredibly supportive and the other has been making weak sauce ‘can’t get involved’ excuses. This person was the instigators psychologist for a long time so I suspect they just don’t want to have to deal with them.

I’m so stressed by it all I started scratching my scalp until it bled again, my blood pressure is high, and I have acid reflux again.

Must go, got to meet the little sister after work

Yuletide wishes

  • Happy Hogswatch,
  • Glad Yuletide,
  • Joyous Solstice,
  • Merry Christmas,
  • Happy Hanukkah,

Sorry if I’ve missed anyone.


I’m not massively into the festive season, mainly because I find it loud, bright and busy, and people are massively hypocritical. The fuss is massively overstimulating for me and makes we tired, grumpy and generally not well. I find hiding in my house with the lights low and no sounds except possible low nature sounds or classical music in the background to be the only way to cope. I’m already finding it hard to focus if there is too much going on.

There’s the expectation of being around people and I can’t really cope with it. I like visiting people but I need to be able to escape when I want. Going to spend 25th with people has a lot of expectation that I’ll be there for a certain amount of time and because I can’t drive I need the other people to get me there and back, so I feel reliant on people. I don’t like being reliant, I don’t like feelings of expectation, I don’t like not being able to escape when I want to.

I do like giving gifts but I struggle to know what to give people. It’s easier if people just give me a list of the things they need. I don’t like buying people things that’ll get put on the shelf and forgotten. I’d prefer them to actually want and need what I give them. There are a lot of books being given this year.

The hypocrisy of people spending two weeks pretending to care about less fortunate people when they spend the other 50 weeks of the year being selfish and only caring about their immediate family gets right on my tits. Don’t do stuff just because it’s Christmas and New Year or because you want people to think you’re so wonderful (charity gifts for example); help people because you actually care and want to help people.

Also, if you don’t want to spend shed loads of money on gifts, don’t just to keep up with the neighbours (or the in-laws). Actually, if you don’t want to do the whole traditional roast dinner/Christmas day thing, don’t. It’s not compulsory. If it’s the only day you’re getting off for a month and you want to spend the day in your jammies eating chocolate, do that. If you want to go on an adventure, go on an adventure (a friend has the week to herself for the first time in almost 30 years, and is going to the West Country with friends – because she can and she wants to). Don’t let other people’s expectations and demands stop you dong what you want to do, if doing that makes you happy.

Right, I’m getting off my soap box now and getting dressed. I’m going to see my bestie, exchange gifts and eat mince pies.

Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival: Days 3 and 4

I’m in pain and exhausted. I had to miss a couple of panels yesterday and both this morning. I’ve over done it; but still, I’ve done it! I’ve managed to go on holiday on my own, go to a festival and meet people. I had to spend this morning resting after a late breakfast, but I’ve been out for an hour or so, walking around Harrogate to get some tape to temporarily repair my glasses, visit a bookshop and buy a new suitcase. But I had better get back to the start of yesterday morning.

Continue reading “Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival: Days 3 and 4”

Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival: Day Two

Entry 1: 08:20

I’m up and showered after a rough night. I was in so much pain that it was difficult to get comfortable. I did eventually sleep, however and this morning I’m ready to go. Last night I wrote out a plan for me to follow so I don’t over do things. I have an hour between 1pm and 2pm to get dinner and hide for a bit. There are a few opportunities for book acquisition that I’m looking forward to today, most notably the Orion Proof Party in the library at 5pm.

Right now, I’m going to finish my cup of tea, get dressed and go for breakfast. I do enjoy a Premier Inn breakfast, especially since I’ve paid in advance for the full works.

Entry 2: 20:24

I am not in pain this evening! Woop! Although my feet were aching earlier, but now I’m back in my room after eating a rare three-course meal (such a treat!) the ache is beginning to fade.

I had a couple of too hot/too crowded slightly dizzy spells today but managed with the help of event staff and festival goers to cope. After the first panel this morning I also realised that the best thing to do wa sto arrive about 10 minutes before the panel was due to start and the crowds would already have gone in, and then go out when the questions started. The only things this didn’t work for was the Crime Files flash giveaway and the Orion Proof Party. If there are free books in the offing people go a bit mad and you have to get there early.

I visited the WH Smiths book tent and bought four books then had a wander ’round.

The first panel of the day was ‘Emerald Noir’. The panel were witty and insightful, discussing their books and characters, and influences. The liminality of borders, physical and psychological, and the importance of language were repeated themes.

Second panel was ‘A Class Act’. I wasn’t as impressed or entertained by this one and due to being overwhelmed by the first event, too hot and anxious I had to use my fidget cube until someone at the other end of the row whined that it was distracting. Me having a meltdown would have been rather more so. I left half hour in to get some air and went for my dinner

I felt rather lost and alone at this point as I hadn’t bumped into anyone I knew from Twitter and blog tours. So I went to the Crime Files pop up stand in the beer tent and had a chat. I found out about their Flash Giveaway at 3pm so I made plans to get to that early because they had limited books.

I also went back to the book shop and bought three more books. I found an empty table between the beer tent and the bookshop and started reading one of my new purchases, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra in the rain. It was drizzling all day but not enough to be worth putting my jacket on for. I blame Val McDermid’s singing. Or Nicola Sturgeon for bringing Scottish weather with her.

Next up was the ‘Pace’ panel. It was okay. I learnt this and that, about the importance of cutting to maintain pace but it was all a bit here and there. I left as soon as questions started to go to the loo then went straight to Crime Files to get in the queue. Luckily, I got close to the front and got my copy of The Perfect Wife, which is now in my suitcase with the other eleven books I acquired today.

The break was good, I needed to get away from people again and found a table on the lawn to myself. People were standing around smoking and it made me cough so I gave up and went back inside, after gawking at Nicola Sturgeon again. She was sat at the table to the right of mine.

‘Antipodean Noir’ was the final panel for me today. I really enjoyed it, the writers were funny and I found their reflections on the differences between Britain and Australia, and New Zealand interesting, as I had the thoughts of the Irish/Northern Irish authors in the morning. Especially the differences in language use and cultural references. I had bought a book by one of the authors, Vanda Symon, so I went to meet her to have my book signed in the WH Smith tent. I was the first in the queue just to see her.

After that I headed to the Orion Proof Party. It was incredibly busy because the Jo Nesbo talk was happening in the Ballroom at the same time and the queue went from one side of the hotel to the other. I met a couple of people and chatted while we waited to get in. I picked up three books and then had one of my too hot/too many people moments and had to be helped out of the room. I got settled, had tea and scones while talking to a couple of people, and found out we sort of recognised each other from bookblogger Twitter.

Vanda Symon joined us and I went back into the library to see if there was anything left. I got the last book.

After that I chatted some more then came back to the hotel. Took some photos for Twitter so my friend Mon could see what I’d been up to and then went for tea.

I had planned to head back to the festival for the Black Thorn Black Out event at 8pm but by the time my meal arrived and I’d eaten it was almost 8pm, I was tired and decided to come back to my room and write this post instead. I’m going to put my pjs on and get back to reading one of the three books I brought with me – you know, just in case I didn’t buy any while I was here. I’m pleasantly full of food, tired, not in pain and less anxious than I was yesterday so it hasn’t been a bad day.

More fun planned for tomorrow!

Night.

Entry 3: 21:16

A couple of accessibility issues I noticed.

  • Water was not easily available, I needed to be sign-posted to find the water coolers, and was denied water when I desperately needed it because one of the few, and nearest, water coolers was in the ‘Friends of the Festival’ Lounge. Even in an emergency I wasn’t allowed to get a cup of water.
  • The use of bounce microphones during Q&A sessions. It’s a microphone in a box, you’re supposed to throw and catch it. As has been raised by disability activists, this makes it difficult for people with limited mobility or motor skills to take part, because you can’t catch the thing.
  • No quiet area, at all. It was drizzling all day, the tents and hotel were busting at the seams and it wasn’t quiet outside either. I wore my headphones all day just to cope.
  • You couldn’t stay in your seat between panels. I’d have liked to get settled in for the day but they threw everyone out between panels.
  • The only food onsite was expensive.

It’s fine having disabled access cards and providing wheelchair spaces, and allowing people to leave whenever they wanted, but it’s the little things like easy access to water or a quiet room to unwind in would make things better.

Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate: Day One

Entry 1: 14:45

After an early start, due to massive anxiety, I caught my first train. It was on time and everything. The TransPennine Express is reasonably comfortable, and from Grimsby to Scunthorpe I had 1st Class all to myself.

Yes, I travel first class when I can. I need the extra leg room and the quiet. TPExpress trains don’t have a quiet carriage and the standard class carriages can turn into a scrum on a bad day.

So, I got to Doncaster on time and made use of the LNER 1st class lounge to get a cuppa and water. I’ve never been in there before, and since I’m getting the Northern rattletrap on the return journey I won’t be again, at least not this time. It was very comfortable. The train was late and I had to go across to platform 8 but it’s a warm, muggy day so sitting outside wasn’t too horrendous. I drank my hot chocolate – I filled up my travel cup while I was in the 1st class lounge – and waited, wrote some Twitter poetry about being anxious and tried to read some more of The Quaker, but it just wasn’t doing anything for me (see review post).

The LNER train was comfortable, again 1st class. It was better than the TPExpress, more leg room and a free drink, but the carriage was bigger and there were more people. It was the London King’s Cross to Leeds train so I was joining it late. Definitely impressed, and should I make any trips to London. I’m going to try to book far enough in advance that I can afford to go first class. I had a decent chair and table to myself. Not a big table, but better than the ones on the TPExpress.

Having got to Leeds late I missed my connection to Harrogate, but another one was due at 1315. I got that one. Northern have definitely improved their carriages. It was much better than the almost a tram I’ve been on on that route before.

I got to Harrogate about 1420, and after a taxi ride to the Premier Inn, I got here at 1430. To find that the computer system had crashed and I couldn’t check in yet. I’m in the bar using my portable wifi to write this. I’ll update later.


Entry 2: 21:28

Well, I’m back at my hotel after my first foray to The Old Swan.

It was terrifying. I didn’t know anyone. there were crowds, it was noisy. I went to the reception tent for help. Got a programme so I can plan my weekend and because I mentioned getting PIP they gave me an access pass so I could get in first for events. It sort of helped, but I wandered around confused a lot and ended up in the short queue walking in tight little circles like I normally do when I’m heading into a meltdown.

I’ve come back to my hotel rather than network and drink with everyone else because I’m in pain. Can’t decide if it’s from too much walking or anxiety. I’m really not up to socialising tonight, maybe I’ll try again tomorrow?

But what happened at the awards, I hear you ask.

There were speeches from one of the organisers, I didn’t catch her name, from the sponsor’s representative, Simon Theakston, and from the award presenter Mark Lawson. They were all very funny.

Mr Lawson invited all the nominees up on to the stage one at a time to talk about their books. They were also amusing. Boris Johnson kept getting a mention.

Ian Rankin presented the award for outstanding contribution to crime writing to James Patterson. He was marvellously hilarious.

Then, Simon Theakston opened the golden envelope, and announced the winner.

The winner of the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year 2019 went to Steven Cavenagh, for Thirteen.

Now, if you’ve read my reviews of the shortlist books, you’ll know I struggled with this one. Courtroom thrillers just aren’t my thing, but the judges liked it so who’m I to disagree. I’m only a little book blogger.

Oh and for people who are in Harrogate, I’m the big, fat woman who wears headphones all the time.

Surviving ‘Outland’ with Rosie

I’ve listened to ‘Outland’ by Dennis E. Taylor and narrated by Ray Porter many, many times since I bought it earlier this year. Having entertained similar plots in the past but never written down (they were terrible, teenage fantasies) I have put some thought into the idea of how one would survive in a post-apocalyptic world. My sister has a similar thing with The Walking Dead and other zombie apocalypse series/films.

Anyway, time to play hypotheticals. I am in Lincoln, Nebraska, at the university for some reason.

Why would I be there? Am I visiting or living there?

A visiting lectureship in creative writing? Research for my PhD? A conference of some kind?

Yellowstone erupts.

I studied Earth Sciences, and was fascinated by volcanoes for a while. The subject of supervolcanoes came up in one lecture. I’ve read about them, I know what those beggars can do. As soon as Yellowstone started to do anything out of the statistical norm, I’d be finding an excuse to get on a flight back to England.

But let’s assume that for some reason I can’t get a flight home.

A bunch of students turn up at the university medical centre after the earthquake with a means to escape Earth. Their escape Earth, Outland, is a wilderness.

What will I need to survive?

  • Warm clothes
  • Boots
  • Waterproof clothes
  • Tent and camp bed
  • Sleeping bag and blankets
  • Food and water
  • Transport that doesn’t require fuel
  • Batteries and solar charging panels
  • Cooking stove and pans
  • Notebooks and pens
  • Books
  • Medication, including painkillers and a first aid kit
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Earplugs

Where would I get these from?

Well, if i was living in Lincoln, Nebraska, hopefully I’d have camping kit in my accomodation. Because it’s a rural state and there’s place to visit in neighbouring states. Not that I camp much these days. My back doesn’t like it and I like showers too much but let’s go with it. Clearly, at home I will also have medication and toiletries.

What about transport?

A bicycle with a trailer would work, even better would be an electric bike. It could be put up on blocks and used as an alternative source of power using the battery. A trailer would be useful for carrying the stuff and with chunky wheels on both the trailer and bicycle, the transport wound be able to handle the terrain.

I found some inspiration on this blog, just look at the dinky caravans pulled by bicycle! I particularly like ‘ The Wide Path Camper’ from Denmark, although it’s a one-off. It would save on a tent and camp bed, and everything could be carried in it.

Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award Shortlist Announced

This morning on the festival website.

https://harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/uncategorized/shortlist-for-theakston-old-peculier-crime-novel-of-the-year-announced/

The short list has some fabulous books, none of which I’ve read yet, unfortunately.

Belinda Bauer – Snap

Steve Cavanagh – Thirteen

Mick Herron – London Rules

Val McDermid – Broken Ground

Liam McIlvanney – The Quaker

Khurrum Rahman – East of Hounslow

I did start reading Thirteen but it was a netgalley download and not a blog tour book, so it got put to one side. I’m sure I saw a copy in the charity shop last week, so I’ll get that.

Having read the summaries on the website, I think I’m going to try to get hold of a copy of each of the books so that I can talk intelligently about them at the awards ceremony.

I forgot to mention that. Because I got my PIP back pay, I’ve booked myself a holiday to Harrogate. I’ve been to the town before but not the Crime Writing Festival. The first event I’m going to, on the Thursday evening, is the awards ceremony. I’m really looking forward to it, but fear my anxiety will make it impossible for me to speak to anyone, or that I’ll say something stupid.

As I said, I’ve been to Harrogate before so I know the train route (tickets bought and collected from the station already) and I’m getting taxi to my hotel – nothing fancy, just the Premier Inn – so I won’t get lost. I’ve got a map to get from my hotel to the Swan Inn where the festival takes place, so I won’t get lost. I made plans and got everything organised as soon as possible because it helps with my anxiety if I know what, where, when, how and why.

I have everything planned out. I have two full days of writing goodness on the Friday and Saturday, a couple of things on the Sunday morning and then all of Sunday afternoon to decompress – by which time I expect to be completely peopled out – before I make the trip home on Monday afternoon. I’m hoping to do some exploring, because I’ve never really had the chance on the few occasions I visited a former-friend in Harrogate before. There was always something planned every day, and a lot of that was sitting around watching films.

Back to the books.

I like the sound of Bauer’s Snap and McIlvanney’s The Quaker, both based on unsolved crimes. Of course, I definitely need to read McDermid’s novel, and Thirteen. East of Hounslow and London Rules aren’t my usual reading matter, but I’ll definitely give them a go. I haven’t got a clue when I’ll fit them in, since June is a busy blog tour month (six so far), but I’ll try.

And now, back to my reading.

Bye

Exoplanets, moon moons and the scientists of Lincolnshire

A few years ago, when I was looking around the University of Lincoln for my MA course, the guide, a 2nd year undergraduate, said he hadn’t known Isaac Newton was from Lincolnshire until he’d come to the University. I think he was from Nottinghamshire. Sir Isaac isn’t our only famous scientist however.

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I can’t read ebooks at the moment

It’s the brain, I can’t focus on the words and I just don’t want to touch a screen. If that makes any sense. Blogging isn’t fun at the minute, sorry.

I love to read and one of the the major bonuses of books is they allow me to escape. But, when my mental health is bad, as it has been for several months now, I need the tactile sensation of paper and turning pages to be able to focus enough to actually read. So screens don’t work for me.

I’ve thought long and hard about it, and I’ve decided to cancel all ebook reviews for March. I have one physical book blog tour review booked in, ‘Stray and Relation’ by Dizzy Greenfield, which I have already read and the review will be posted on 17th March, but any other reviews will be for books I have in my TBR pile from various publishers. I also have a couple of books for April that I want to get read and reviewed ahead of time.

There’s another problem, I am feeling under pressure to agree to so many blog tours I don’t feel like I have time to just read for the fun of it, everything has to be done to a timetable, and I’m just not up to that right now. When my mental illnesses are playing silly buggers I can easily read the four books I have scheduled for this month in about ten days. But right now, the added pressure of ‘I must read this book by this date’ is too much for me.

I need to take things easy for a while. I had to cancel a couple of tours in January, but February was mostly physical books and I managed the two e-books fine, but I can’t do it this month, I’m overwhelmed and close to shutting down entirely. I’m going to email the affected blog tour organisers after I finish this post, but I thought you, loyal readers, should know first, that regular service has broken down and it’ll resume when I’m up to it.

I have three books on the side by my desk that I’ve read and haven’t reviewed yet because I haven’t been up to it. I have a pile of Pen & Sword books that I’ve started that I’m struggling to finish because I can’t focus. I’ve read 12 Tamora Pierce books since January, because Tortall is where I go when I can’t be here, when being here is too painful.

Sorry.

I have a new support worker, who is helping me with my emotional stuff and my regular appointments with the psychologist continue. I have sent my PIP paperwork to the Tribunal service because I was denied it at Mandatory Reconsideration. My rent goes up next month and I’m unsure of my ESA at the moment. After my Christmas Eve assessment I was moved to the work related activity group, so I sent new evidence and requested a Mandatory Reconsideration. I also contacted my MP for advice. I got my MR notice on Friday and I think it says I’m getting Support again, but I’m waiting for the award notice before I feel certain.

All this stress has, strangely enough, taken a massive toll on my mental health, which is never robust at the best of times. My resilience is low, unfortunately, despite all the support I have from my family, especially my sisters who bear the financial and emotional brunt of my mental illness and autism. I had been making progress, until about August last year when I started to go down hill again. It’s easy enough, one little thing trips me up, and then it spirals until I can’t function and I’m suicidal again.

To be blunt, I don’t need something I do as a hobby making things worse than they already are.

Nostalgia reading: realising old lessons

Reading is what I do when I’m upset. I’ve been re-reading Tamora Pierce’s ‘The Song of the Lioness’ and ‘The Immortals’ series this last few days. These books were my first introduction to feminism, although I didn’t know what that was at the time and all I was interested in was the fun girl characters in a fantasy. These girls rescued themselves.

Continue reading “Nostalgia reading: realising old lessons”