goth aphroditemf

The Epic Florida/Virginia Getaway!

It's been over a week since we returned from the jaunt to Florida, and I am still feeling daunted at the prospect of posting some of the photos here.  You see, I took over 1,500 photos over two weeks.  I can't possibly narrow them down!

We (me, Paul, Scarlett, Dylan, mum, dad, stepdad Gary and uncle Gary) spent seven days in my uncle Gary's timeshare apartment near Orlando, then three days at the utterly bonkers looking Lion King hotel in Disney World, then four days in Virginia (where auntie Gill also joined us) for my brother's spectacular wedding in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

During the time in Florida we managed to fit in Universal Studios, the Salvador Dali Museum, Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park, Disney Hollywood Studios, Disney Magic Kingdom and Disney Epcot.  We also ate a truck-load of seafood.  Oh my gods, clam chowder!  And we visited an American Halloween shop!  Bugger me, it was the size of a supermarket!

The kids loved every second of it.  I really hope Dylan will have some memories of this!  He's not quite three yet, so I hope he'll be able to recall the time he met Star Wars characters, at the very least.

Due to wanting to spend quality time with my brother and sister-in-law and her family, plus the busy wedding schedule, we didn't do much sight-seeing in Virginia, though we did make time for a wine-tasting session at a vineyard.

The wedding was absolutely gorgeous, and such fun! Scarlett and I got a proper make-over for our turn as bridesmaids, with fancy hair-dos and a make-up artist. The scenery was like nothing I'd seen before, the weather was perfect, and the company superb!  I can't thank my brother and sister-in-law enough, and wish them the long and happy marriage they so deserve.

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black death

Self-publishing - ISBNs and Lovely Formatting

I have purchased ten shiny new ISBN numbers, for the princely sum of £149.99.  I’m not entirely sure if these are necessary for self-publishing (I've heard conflicting reports), but hey-ho, in for a penny, in for a pound.  And hopefully it will motivate me to write nine more books so I get my money’s worth.  Waste not, want not, and all that.

I have also embarked on the formidable task of formatting my book for e-readers.  I was not previously aware of this excruciating process, but thanks to the blessed guidance of joeybug, and her excellent recommendation of Smashwords Style Guide, I am well on my way to creating an ebook that won’t make readers’ eyeballs ache.  I have to say, so far it is looking very sexy indeed.  I am anxious to unleash it on the unsuspecting public.  Brace yourselves.
black death

Book Cover Art!

It seems that all my attempts at pursuing a traditional publishing path have come to nothing.  The last two interested publishers threw in their hats - one because they weren't comfortable with dealing with a genre book, the other for reasons unexplained.

So it looks like I'm going to be self-publishing!  While I'm disappointed that my vampire/time-travel mash-up novel wasn't a tempting enough prospect for even the smallest of publishers, I feel satisfied that I gave the submissions process the best possible crack.  And although self-publishing was plan B, nevertheless it's a journey that I'm excited to be embarking upon.

The first ingredient in my plan was an official website, which I've already done (though it needs more content and perhaps a sexier design).  Next up was a badass-looking book cover.  With the aid of my extremely limited Photoshop skills, a free font and a public domain image courtesy of the British Library's Flickr Stream I cobbled together this easy-to-read, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin monochrome delight:



Now, it's not obviously vampirey, but I wanted to steer clear of the trends you see in contemporary vampire novel covers - stock photo of blandly attractive young woman, an inoffensive quantity of blood, spooky red font etc.



So I hope that the combination of title and design makes it immediately obvious that it's a) gothic/punky in tone b) takes place in Victorian times and c) is set in London.  And the Tower of London, of course, carries its own set of ghastly connotations.

Please let me know what you think - I need to know if anything needs re-jigging or if it simply doesn't work!
goth aphroditemf

We blinded them with science!

People here in the UK sometimes complain about our schools adopting traditions from American schools.  Personally, I think that this is just a bit of cultural jingoism, as there's nothing at all negative about British schools starting to have proms and science fairs.  There's always going to be the "Good Old Days" brigade that whinge that school discos are getting replaced, even though school discos were shite.

Scarlett's school held its first ever science fair yesterday.  We had a few weeks to make a parent-child science project on anything we wanted.  Scarlett wanted to do a presentation about Galileo, so I helped her to find some facts and pictures and we stuck them to a sparkle-covered board.  Looked pretty damn sweet, if I say so myself!



Anyway, at the science fair... Scarlett won!  Having never had a science fair when I was at school I got to share her smug.

goth aphroditemf

Syd Barrett in Mojo Magazine

I haven't posted any magazine scans in AGES!  Perhaps this is because the endless recycling that rock-oriented magazines do is tedious.  Or maybe it's because magazines are about £6 now and don't offer much that can't be found online for free.  But recently I splurged on this beaut and thought I'd share it.

It's difficult to shed new light on Syd's story, beyond what's already been written in the excellent biographies that are available.  But this article manages to do just that.  The interview with Syd's sister Rosemary (courtesy of Mark Blake) is particularly insightful, especially when it comes to his post-Floyd activities. I also enjoyed the retrospective of his songwriting.

Oh, and the magazine comes with a couple of lovely art prints of 60s era Floyd posters!



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goth aphroditemf

I'm BACK!

I took a couple of months off of LJ but now, like the Jedi, I have returned!
I had a bit of a health scare recently when my doctor thought I had diabetes, but it turns out it was just an overdose of… calcium.  Yep, the least rock’n’roll overdose one could possibly have.  Last year when I started avoiding dairy and eggs (in addition to not eating meat since I was 12) I thought I should take calcium tablets.  Two massive, impossible to swallow calcium tablets a day.  Now I know that there is sufficient calcium in green vegetables, fish, soya and Quorn, so I’ve knocked the tablets on the head and I’m feeling much better.
Looking forward to being back in the LJ saddle and catching up with all you fine people!
  • Current Music
    JJ Burnel - The Euroman Cometh
black death

Macbeth! The Story of Macbeth

I watched Macbeth last night, partly because of the lure of shirtless Fassbender, but also because FUCK YES THE BARD!!!

Shakespeare's tales are saturated with the best and worst of human nature - lust, violence, madness, hilarity, love, vengeance, ambition - to such an extent that they've endured for over four centuries.  Not only that, but many lines are ingrained in our contemporary language as everyday idioms... a foregone conclusion, a sorry sight, all of a sudden, all's well that ends well, dead as a doornail, as luck would have it, bated breath, more fool you, wild goose chase, vanish into thin air, there's method in my madness, the short and the long of it, the Queen's English, send him packing, in a pickle, and my personal favourite Elizabethan sexual euphemism, "the beast with two backs."

Something that I find interesting about the stories themselves (aside from all the stabbing and cross-dressing) is that they were often already ancient when Shakespeare adapted them for stage.


An illustration from Holinshed's Chronicles, which Shakespeare drew inspiration for the story of Macbeth from.

For example, the real Macbeth, or Mac Bethad mac Findlaích to give him his catchier title, ruled Scotland from 1040-1057.  In reality, Macbeth killed King Duncan in battle, and was later killed in battle with the English.  The popular 16th-century history book Holinshed's Chronicles portrayed Macbeth as a stabby witch-botherer, and it was from this depiction that Shakespeare's play drew inspiration.  Further influencing Shakespeare was the Stuart king James I's belief that he was descended from King Malcolm.  Never piss off your patron, especially if he has the power to have you hanged, drawn and quartered.

And now a story that is a millennia old, once performed to catcalls and the throwing of rotten vegetables, can be enjoyed in the comfort of one's living room, where every ripple in Michael Fassbender's pectoral muscles is rendered in high definition.  It's almost as though Shakespeare, whether through prescience or rampant egotism, had some inkling of his eventual longevity, as he states in the closing lines of Sonnet 18,

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
 So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
goth aphroditemf

Domain Names

Does anyone have any experience of buying domain names?  I wanted one for my "official" writing blog, but I'm flummoxed by the number of websites that cater in domain names, and I'm not sure which ones are most reputable and offer the best value for money.  Any advice?

I'm going through the process of copying some of my more relevant LJ posts to the new blog, which is working out well because I'm too lazy/busy to come up with new content.
goth aphroditemf

Death of Sennheisers

Back in August I treated myself to a lovely pair of over-the-ear Sennheiser headphones.  Though Sennheiser are generally known as a maker of high-end audio products, these are the cheapest in their range, retailing at around £20-30.  I managed to get a second-hand pair off of eBay for £15, and was thoroughly pleased with them.  Look, I'm glowing with joy:



Imagine my dismay when, during my commute to work, I put them on to find that the sound was only coming out of one side!!!  I later confronted Scarlett, since she uses them with her iPad.

Me: Did you know the sound is only coming out of one side of the headphones?
Scarlett:  Yeah, it's ok though, you can still hear stuff.
Me: But only out of one side!!!
Scarlett:  So?  It doesn't matter, does it?

My child will never be an audiophile.

Anyway, it's given me an excuse to purchase an upgrade.  This time my eBay bargain-hunting skills really paid off, as I picked up a brand new, boxed set of Sennheiser HD 239s (retail: £80) for only £23!!