Friday, 31 July 2015

Something happened

When I looked up the other day to see how to get Windows 10 installed on my own timeline (I turned off windows updates years ago because I don't like having anything drop by unannounced, even updates) I noticed that there were a few people reporting there was an error saying 'something happened,' which they couldn't get past.

This was reported in text only, so I made the rather foolish assumption that they meant there was a more specific error which meant that something happened which stopped the upgrade.

Oh no. That would be too easy. If you haven't had the pleasure yet, welcome to the most helpful Windows error message yet:

Way to waste my time Windows 10. I don't mean providing me with unenlightening messages that look like they might have started life as a program placeholder to come back to later (or not as it turned out), I just Googled the answer to that conundrum and was done with it.

No, the bit that took the time was finding the hashtag on twitter and reading the random nonsense that this particularly existential explanation had spawned.

I hold a strong belief that people are at their best when they're mocking. It truly releases fonts of creativity that would otherwise go untapped. To appreciate this, it's essential that every last sarcastic comment is read.

So, thank you Windows. Thank you for releasing such glorious fodder to the creative geniuses of our current generation.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015


Despite being half of the population (or maybe more, we do keep to ourselves after all) introverts just don't have a lot of events catered to their needs.

Next week, we're going to be offsite for two days of torture discussion about the strategy and direction of our unit for the coming year.

I know, right? Bundles of fun all around.

In addition to this horror-show being slowly drawn out over two full working days, I've been belatedly informed that on the first day I'm also attending (that's an order) a delightful evening meal to commence directly after our fun-filled extravaganza of a strategy day.

There are certain rules that should guide all planning sessions that involve introverts.

Rule Number One: Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone. Give them alone time.

This is the ultimate rule that should always be observed. If you fail to follow this rule you'll have a group of burned out, irritable people making up approximately fifty percent of your group. It may not be the origin of 'going postal' but it certainly mimics many of the key features.

Rule Number Two: Introverts like being invited to things. Invite them to things. They can then turn you down politely.

Just because I would rather gouge my eyes out than be trapped at a table in a restaurant for a meal that's going to be served long after I've stopped feeling hungry, and the digestion of which will keep me awake long past my bedtime, doesn't mean that I don't want to be invited.

On the other hand the key word here is invitation. I don't want to go. Don't make me go. If you make me go you're breaking rule number one, and you won't like me when I'm over-socialised.

Rule Number Three: If you break rules one and two I will take introverted revenge.

Okay, you extraverts. You catered for your own needs. You planned things out your own way. You think things are going to be pretty sweet during the social days from hell.

You're especially looking forward to going out for a nice meal afterwards. I bet you're planning on making it last for a really long time so you can wring maximum enjoyment out of it. I can hear you ordering your dessert course now and making me realise that I'm at least half an hour away from freedom.

I've got one word for you.


You think you can trick me into participating in lively discussions all day long, and then unwind later over a long degustation? I've got a few more one-words.


Oh, is that a bit more social fun you're trying to force down my throat?


Really? It's compulsory to join in the group activity and role-play?


Yeah, you just try to run.

Monday, 27 July 2015


I've spent a lot of the past few weeks dreaming about my upcoming holiday. I firmly believe that this holiday is going to be a good one, a holiday to beat all other holidays in fact, mainly because it hasn't arrived to not live up to my expectations.

An unfortunate side-effect has been my decreasing ability to tell what day or time it is. Slips of the mind that are perfectly natural on beach holidays, but slightly more concerning when attempting to perform my officely duties.

Today I was unhappily ensconced in a meeting room, when I looked down at my watch to check on the time. It said 2.00pm which was patently ridiculous as it was still morning. Stupid Samsung watch. Or, I'd been replenishing my lives on Farm Heroes and forgot to reset the time afterward.

Except, it wasn't the fault of the watch or my gaming addiction. It really was 2.00pm. I was eventually able to verify this myself by recalling that I'd sat in the breakout area and enjoyed lunch a few hours beforehand.

At least that one was headed in the right direction. Last Friday I had my more usual wake up in the morning before the alarm dead-set certain that it was Saturday only to find out it wasn't.

Fair enough. On Saturday at midday I thought that I was at home on a weekday, and didn't bat an eyelid that my darling was also home, even though on the rare occasions that we're sick at the same time I force myself to go to work because being sick at work is better than listening to someone else be sick at home.

In two weeks and four days (not that I'm counting) this will all be irrelevant because everyone knows that holidays at the beach reside outside of the time space continuum unless you want to have an evening meal at three in the afternoon in which case it reasserts itself pretty sharpish.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Cover reveal(s) and other stuff

Ooooohhh. Aaaaaaahhh.

I hope you all have a nice slow Internet connection so that the cover reveal was slow and meaningful and not all just in-your-face thereness. After all, I wasted spent hours designing that for your viewing pleasure.

You'll be please to know that this cover comes to you absolutely free with the purchase of Breathe and Release, due for release on 31st August 2015.

(Unless I finish all the little fiddly bits early, whereupon it may be sooner. It can't be later or Amazon will take away pre-order privileges from me, and I have so few privileges these days that the loss of any of the few I have would leave be bereft.)

In order to convince you to buy it, below you'll find an excerpt of the first chapter. This is sometimes called a 'reveal,' as was the cover above. I call it 'I couldn't think of anything to blog about tonight because my life is empty of interest.'

Please note, that this excerpt (and indeed the rest of the book) is currently undergoing an intense proofread and therefore any mistakes I couldn't possibly count as my own, as they truly belong to the person who hasn't yet found them and pointed them out to me.

Point them out to me here at your own peril. Or, you know, for a quick and easy, 'Thank you, that saved me having to fix it later.'

Chapter One

Elisabet woke for the first time one morning. An odd occurrence as she was an adult woman, but although she knew that she didn’t know much else.

She had no memories. There was a lot of knowledge in her head, untethered, but there were no memories to accompany it except for those she’d formed since waking.

They’d been uniformly bad.

Her head hurt. Her legs hurt. Her back ached, and she couldn’t rotate her right shoulder at all.

She insisted that the pretty blond nurse who was tending to her bring a mirror so she could waylay her first horrified thought, that she was old. She wasn’t, but that was the end of the good news.

She was in a hospital, and judging by the sour looks on some faces and the harried expressions on others, she didn’t think it was a good one. A public hospital for sure.

At least in ICU it was one patient, one nurse, and Elisabet liked hers. The nurse’s hair gleamed and was cut in a short bob. It curled under her chin in a way that made Elisabet shiver with delight. She was pretty, but not in a way that time would treat well. Her chin was weak, and her cheeks were shaped from fat not bone.

At the moment no one would notice because of her plump lips, and the rose flush of her skin. Her gleaming white teeth were so perfect an orthodontist would shrink from them as they contained no hope for paying to send kids through university.

Machines beeped and churned around Elisabet. Those she was hooked to weren’t too bad, she had to tolerate them. She didn’t see why she should put up with those attached to other patients. Their sounds were far more annoying, and she wished they’d all fall silent.

Bet that would keep the nurses busy.

A doctor popped in to see her. He flashed a bright light into Elisabet’s eyes by way of welcome, then helped himself to the seat next to her bed so her pretty attendee had to stand.

‘How’re you feeling?’

‘I’m in pain.’

He seemed surprised at that and gestured to the nurse who shook her head.

‘I asked to have my morphine reduced,’ Elisabet said. ‘I was having far too much fun.’

‘Can’t complain then.’

As though one followed the other. There were billions of people in the world right now, most of them not in pain and not taking morphine. If Elisabet wanted to complain about not being one of them, she felt she had every right.

‘Can you tell me your full name?’

She shook her head. Perhaps her lower lip pouted a tad too much, as he further inquired, ‘Is that because you can’t, or because you don’t want to?’

‘I don’t know my full name. What is it?’

He held up a long finger. Patience.

‘What about the year? Do you know what year it is?’

Elisabet shook her head, and a memory flashed into her brain. A contestant on Mastermind who’d picked a subject he didn’t know as well as he’d thought. Pass. Pass. Pass.

‘Who’s Prime Minister?’

‘David Lange,’ she said without even having to think about it. His frown told her that perhaps she should’ve given it a bit more time, but when she paused nothing else came. Her headache started to grow worse.

She didn’t like to lose, especially when the game should be so easy.

The doctor gave up and handed her a journal after a while. ‘To help your memory.’

Elisabet wasn’t sure what he thought a notebook that cost downwards of two dollars in any halfway decent stationery store would do, but when she asked him he just got excited.

‘You can calculate money then,’ he said, and handed her some loose change to count out to show him.

That was when he told her that she had a memory problem.

Elisabet personally thought that her memory was working just fine, thank you very much. She could remember every detail of everything she’d done since she woke up that morning.

Her doctor seemed to think there was another thirty-eight years’ worth of memories prior to that which would come in handy. Honestly, the way her head was pounding she didn’t know where they were going to fit in. Trying to squeeze fourteen thousand days in on top of the memories she’d formed that day was just asking for trouble.

* * *

There was an annoying man in the rehabilitation area. He kept crying and saying, ‘I can’t do it, I can’t do it,’ then made a series of grunts as he tried anyway.

He swung his legs forward, placing his feet carefully on the ground, then moved his arms along the parallel bars that kept him upright.
Honestly, you’d think his parents were zombies the way he shambled along. Zombies who didn’t instil the right measure of manhood in their son, the cry baby, thought Elisabet.

She didn’t cry out, and there was a furious bolt of pain ripping through her body with every step, too. Not to mention that her left arm wasn’t any too steady or reliable at the moment. Something to do with the side of her head that was caved in. She’d send a polite request out to the muscle ‘need a little help here’ and sometimes it was as obliging as a niece coddling up in hopes of an inheritance cheque, and sometimes it just sulked in its room with its headphones on.

She wasn’t very impressed with any of the other people who were here, actually. There just wasn’t a very high class of injured body at the hospital. They just didn’t take any pride in themselves. It was as though they didn’t think it was important to look their best at every moment.

Since Elisabet was judging everybody based on their personal appearance she presumed everyone else did, too. Therefore, she tried to maintain an immaculate facade. She was let down at that moment by the large patches of hair that were shaved off her head and the yellowing lumps down the left side of her face, but she was doing the best with what she had.

Anyway, hair would grow and lumps would flatten. Her face was fairly good looking aside from those immediate concerns. Smooth and unblemished, then lumpy, then smooth and unblemished again.

Not like the man who’d come in to visit her that day. Elisabet’s husband. Well, she’ll be the judge of that. His face looked like someone took a picture of a handsome man, then screwed it up and flattened it out. Creases everywhere.

She’d been a bit concerned there were so many lines on his face that it may actually have been due to injury, but when she mentioned that to him he’d screwed his face up and created even more, so whatever’d gone on was obviously self-inflicted.

That was an awkward meeting.

‘Elisabet. This is Graeme, your husband.’

It was the pretty young nurse that introduced him. Elisabet had been moved out of ICU into a separate room, but the nurse followed along. Elisabet no longer had her undivided attention, but she had enough to be getting on with.

She nodded and held out her hand because that was what you do, wasn’t it? He’d launched himself at her instead and started crying. Crying, and clutching at her back, her waist, her head. Elisabet waved her arms until the nurse tapped him on the shoulder and suggested he lay off for a while. Or, ‘I think you should take it slowly for a while,’ as she put it. ‘She’s had a nasty accident, and her memory is playing up.’

‘This is Kristen. Your daughter,’ he said.

‘Step-daughter,’ the girl corrected immediately. She glared at her with such resentment that Elisabet gave her a smile of appreciation in return. Nice attitude.

‘That’s not true, honey,’ her husband said. Elisabet scowled at him in unison with Kristen. ‘She’s your adoptive mother, remember?’

There was a muttered sentence, which may’ve translated into ‘When it suits,’ but Elisabet couldn’t be sure.

Kristen stood by the window. She was so tall that she reached the top of the old wooden mouldings. If her mouse brown hair wasn’t so lank she could’ve eclipsed them.

‘I’ll leave you alone to get reacquainted,’ the nurse said as she walked out of the room. Elisabet looked about for the call button in case she needed to fetch her back, sharpish.

‘I was so worried about you,’ her husband said as he sat on the side of the bed. It was too narrow for him to do it comfortably, and it knocked her off balance, but he didn’t seem to notice. She levered the sheets up so she could move farther away and sat with her back against the metal headboard.

‘Mmmmmm,’ Elisabet responded when it seemed he needed something from her. ‘Were you?’

‘Oh yes. I know we’ve been separated for a while now, but you know I still care for you.’ He reached out and tapped her nose with the knuckle of his forefinger.

‘Oh thank God,’ she said, as his words registered. She’d been wondering what on earth she was doing with the idiot, but a separation explained a few things.

Kristen snorted.

‘I know you’re having a bit of trouble remembering things at the moment,’ he said and stretched out his hand to brush at Elisabet’s fringe. She jerked back even though the movement caused her headache to worsen. ‘But don’t worry. I’ll be here if you need to know anything.’

‘We’re not meant to tell her, Dad. The doctor said to let her remember on her own.’

He shot her a look and Kristen moved farther down the wall, away from him. Elisabet raised her eyebrows and studied the two of them. Kristen was scared of him, or nervous at any rate. Elisabet wondered if she should be nervous, too. There was no harm in being careful.

Kristen pulled her phone out and started playing with it.

‘You can’t use that in here,’ Graeme said. ‘It mucks up the machines.’

‘That’s a load of rubbish,’ she responded. ‘They only leave those signs up because they want to control their patients. Anyway, she’s not even hooked up to anything,’ she said, the disappointment clear in her voice.

‘She’s the cat’s mother,’ Elisabet chimed in as the old phrase entered her head.

They both stared at her. She had nothing more to add.

‘Take it outside if you’re going to use it,’ Graeme continued. ‘We don’t need to get kicked out; we just arrived.’

‘Whatever,’ Kristen said, but left the room. Elisabet could hear her clomp down the hallway. The linoleum did nothing to disguise any sounds of movement. It was chosen for ease of cleaning, not for sound dilution.

‘So,’ Graeme said as he turned and stretched his legs out on the bed beside Elisabet. ‘Just the two of us.’

She didn’t know why that phrase should send a shiver of fear down her spine, but it did.

Thursday, 23 July 2015


Tissues are amazing things. A bold statement for sure, but also justified.

They clear up the things that no other self-respecting fabric would go near. Okay, a hankie would do some of the same jobs, but if you've still got one of those in your pocket you need to beam back to the 1950s where your sort is still tolerated.

I have a bag full of the little beauties right next to me on the sofa. They're admittedly not so beautiful as they started out, due to the nature of their job, but they've served their purpose well and deserve some respect. I have them in a separate bag next to me, because my nose is in fountain mode and I can't be bothered walking all the way (two metres!) to the kitchen bin.

Besides, it's best the two forms of rubbish don't meet. One is hazardous human waste, and the other is hazardous vegetable waste. Who knows what sort of chemical warfare they may end up producing when combined?

There's not only the tissues you use for wiping your nose, of course. They're just the ones closest to my heart, or throbbing nasal passages, at the moment. No, there's facial tissues for wiping off your make-up, if you use make-up, or toilet tissue for wiping down your toilet or something.

Really, if you were picking a job to be as an inanimate object (admittedly, inanimate objects aren't usually known for exercising their rights to pick things, but bear with me) a tissue is probably not something that would top the list.

As is usual in these situations, the jobs least sought after are the very ones that we would miss most if they weren't performed, yet monetarily value the least.

In the scale of human shopping, shouldn't we spend more on the things that actively make our lives easier and better every day, and less value on the things that leave us indifferent?

If you were to take your average bag of toilet paper, four rolls of thick 'n' long, and stack it up against the moisturiser that you apply every day out of some lame attempt to cheat death, which would you think you should be forking out $1.99 for, and which would you price at $15.99.

Silly, isn't it? If someone were to steal these two items from your household and then extort money from you at point-of-use, which would you pay out twenty bucks for?

Economics is a stupid system that should never be trusted.

Sure, there are high-minded types who would more eloquently say that if the world runs on a system that gives a father more incentive to sell his daughter into prostitution than to train her as a teacher then it's time to get a new system, but you don't need to get as elevated from your normal life as that.

Anyone who's been caught short without a handful of tissue knows that there are some things more important than money. Economics means nothing when you have a handful of thin air, and a noseful of mucus.

But yeah, that human rights stuff too. As soon as tissue is valued appropriately, I'm all for getting that sorted as well.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Kiwi chocolate

Oh, happy days. A Friday afternoon discussion led to the following correspondence with Whittaker's chocolate:

Sent: Friday, 17 July 2015 5:12 p.m.
Subject: Lolly Cake Chocolate

Sent by: Katherine Hayton

Dear Whittaker's,

Today our office pod had its usual Friday afternoon discussion about the various flavours of chocolate available, and have decided that if a chocolate maker were to produce a variety of Lolly Cake Chocolate we would definitely be hearty supporters of such a venture.

Do you know of any chocolate makers who would be interested in producing such a flavour?

Kind regards,

I expected this email would drop into the bottomless pit that is a corporation's 'Contact Us' email address, but today I received the following in reply:

Good Afternoon Katherine,

Thank you for your product suggestion. I agree a Whittaker's lolly cake would be a delicious product!

I have forwarded your email on to our product development manager and she will add your product suggestion to our customer database. We monitor this database with the marketing team to look for product trends so hopefully one day we will be able to consider this further.

Thanks again for contacting us. We hope you continue to enjoy our chocolate.

Kind Regards,
(name of representative removed for privacy reasons, hers not mine, I've failed miserably at maintaining my privacy by aggressively marketing myself)

P: +64 4 2375021 | F: +64 4 237 4743
PO Box 50139, Porirua 5024
24 Mohuia Cres, Elsdon, Porirua 5022

Tres excitement.

In case you hale from a country outside of New Zealand, lolly cake is a staple of our wide and varied culture. It is created by taking a packet of malt biscuits*, crushing them mercilessly into crumbs, mixing in sweetened condensed milk and melted butter (because biscuits don't naturally contain enough fat and sugar) then chopping up an inappropriately named bag of lollies (Eskimos**) and mixing the whole lot together, rolling in coconut and popping in the fridge until set.

We call this baking. We don't have a lot of call for pastry chefs down here.

Needless to say, the whole thing is absolutely delicious. It would be entirely appropriate for this fantastic tasting foodstuff to then be packaged into little squares, coated with Whittaker's chocolate, and sold in family size bars. Even more fat and sugar can only be another improvement.

If any peoples of the world would like to help me in my quest, please feel free to drop your own inquiry through to Whittaker's and see if we can raise some demand.

*Apparently there are some people in the UK who actually eat these as biscuits. You won't find that happening in New Zealand. We have malt biscuits to make lolly cake, the same way we have reduced cream and onion soup to make dip. They exist solely for the purpose of the recipe we use them in.

**Eskimos are like fruit puffs, but are a tad racist and shaped like old-fashioned Inuit dolls. Yeah, I don't know why either. I shudder to think the marketing department that dreamed that one up.

Not fair

Ahem. Before I begin my rant tonight if there are any among you who are germs, or friends of germs, then you may want to stop reading here because offensive language is waiting for you further down the track.

I complained last week about the typhoid Mary that had brought disease into the midst of our pod. A completely inaccurate description because he wasn't a Mary, and unlike the historical version he'd succumbed to the same disease he spread around rather than just being a carrier.

I complained about him because he'd passed his dirty little germs onto me, and they'd taken up residence in my beautiful warm moist nasal canal.

Over the weekend my spirits waxed and waned in tandem with my illness, but I came through relatively unscathed to join the working classes on a fine Monday morning with little more to show for my internal battle than a sexy-arse voice.

Well. It seems some cousins of my original germ family have decided that they like the view from my nasal cavity and have joined their relatives in squatting in my precious real estate.

Now, I'm okay with getting one cold every six months or so. Thems the breaks for being a social human. Thems also the breaks for being an anti-social human forced into a pretence of being social in order to earn a living.

But to have a cold less than a week after contracting my last cold is just not on. Not to mention that there I was celebrating my fantastic immune system that had run the rhinovirus out of town in less than a week, and I discover that meanwhile it failed to notice a bigger uglier version sneaking in the back.

And I know that this time it's not going to be an easy ride. Oh no. My internal bits are already downtrodden from the last viral load. They aren't ready to take another pounding. No wonder new tenants moved in. The inflamed surface must look like nice comfy padding to them.

There are over a hundred people on our floor. That means there are two hundred moist nostrils that these little critters could've called home. I suppose I should be flattered they chose me. I should be flattered they dragged their stinking sticky spiky selves into my deepest darkest places. But then again, I should be a lot of things.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Almost perfect

Having taken a short break off from ginger crunch wars, I think I'm heading into a showdown tomorrow.

To prepare for battle I've taken the standard sugar component of the crunch out, and replaced it with a half and half mix of coconut sugar (deeper flavour and dries out the crunch nicely) and raw sugar crystals (adds its own crunch with no effort on my part).

I've also used a new dried ginger spice. I don't know that it makes any difference to the flavour, but it comes in a nicer looking box than the last one I bought, and also had a free recipe for pumpkin soup included in the box.

It was a strange choice of recipe being as how there was no ginger involved in it at all, but I'll have to wait until I open the second box before I work out whether this was a joke at the packing factory or part of their master plan for expansion by including recipes that contain the spices you haven't bought yet.

Back to the ginger crunch I used a new twist on the ginger topping. Instead of making a fudge, toffee or standard recipe induced icing, I decided that the topping I love most in the world is a butter cream icing.

It may have its detractors, but if you overlook the cup of butter and three cups of icing that go into your standard buttercream icing (sized up or down) then all you're left with is milk, and what's wrong with a nice bit of milk, eh?

In order to replicate the stodge of the traditional topping I did move the proportions a bit, and was left with a lovely thick icing that dried very quickly and appropriately on top of the squares of crunch.

My hand is now exhausted because it was so thick that trying to pipe it through a little nozzle required a lot more effort than your standard cake decoration. I'm calling it my workout for the day. My body is a temple.

For anyone wanting to know how the final version worked out, I've included a few photos for your appraisal below.

It's possible they could have used a tad more icing topping, but as it stands they're almost perfect.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Like flies

Working in pods is great. You get to have a chat with your co-workers, and get to know each other.

If you need a hand with something, there's a captive pool of trainers and mentors awaiting you.

If you break open a cake of chocolate, you can guarantee that you won't be the only one to eat it, and you find out what other human beings do on the weekend that you can never be bothered to do yourself.

Unfortunately there's a downside to this particular brand of companionship. It comes in the form of viruses that use the closeness of our office relationship to spread their viral families and buy cheap real estate while we're looking the other way.

There's actually another downside which is if you're an introvert it's very hard to get your alone time to recharge your batteries when in such close proximity, but that will keep for another day.

On Monday there was a person in our pod who started to feel unwell. On Tuesday the same person was far sicker, but misery loves company so they dragged themselves into work to breathe their horrible, virus laden breath into the previously uncontaminated air that their pod buddies were also breathing.

On Wednesday, the ill person didn't show. Everyone else did, but one had to leave early because they, too, had fallen ill.

On Thursday the same two staff were away, and another two staff members were starting to feel a bit off-colour.

This would've been an interesting study in the social life of disease, except I was one of those two staff members.

Not happy. Not interested. Except in grumbling. Man flu sometimes crosses the gender boundaries, you know.

Today was Friday and what would usually be the best day of the working week was instead full of coughing, spluttering and headaches. Pounding, pounding headaches.

It was also full of sugar. Sweet, sweet sugar. Diet's out the window again. Those odd wee virus bodies moving through my bloodstream, not to mention my mucus stream, have powerful cravings that laugh in the face of my willpower.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Accidental Learnings

Dotted around our workplace (and the country) are some people who've been there forever. Comparatively.

If you have a question about our laughably old computer system, these are the go-to folk.

Unfortunately, that's so well known that it becomes awkward calling them all the time. Especially when the thing they're being called about is meant to be within our area of expertise.

I may not have a lot of time in the office to spare, but I do have a lot of stubbornness. So do some of the mini-mes my team is populated with.

So when we discovered an error we didn't have a solution to this week did we call up the helpful guy who knows everything?

Did we hell.

We put needless time and effort into finding out all the various methods we can use on our system to not fix our error. We found files that didn't need to be deleted, databases that didn't need to be updated, and forlorn instructions from decades past that are so out of date even revising them would just make us feel sad and old.

After trolling through everything known to man that we could find, we called in the experts. Not the expert we were avoiding calling, but the people who used to know what they were doing back in the day and who still have the misfortune to work within shouting distance of our team.

We also called the computer system a variety of names which we felt positive would engender a much-needed result, and then called it the opposite of those for the same reason.

We, and by this time I'd given up too so it was really just my team member slogging it out alone, tried doing a slo-mo replay of the process that had resulted in the error to see if there was anything we missed.

We discovered a new way of searching through documents, some reports that will make other team's lives easier, a truckload of stuff that should probably be consigned to cyber heaven, but did we find the answer?

Of course we did. We phoned the guy we weren't going to phone and he told us.

The error took approximately seven seconds to fix in the end, so that was a day well spent.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Finished! (for the time being)

After waking up at the ungodly hour of four o'clock this morning, I have worked hard all day (some paid, some unpaid) and am happy to say that I've finally finished my latest manuscript.

And when I say finished, I mean I've sent it off to a proofreader and I'll probably start making another slew of corrections in a few week's time.

But for now that's in the future. I'm just happy to be done with it for the moment, and if I could still drink I'd have a glass of champagne to celebrate.

Now I get to go back to the fun part of writing, designing the book cover.

Oh, and the book blurb. Can't forget that. Sometimes it's the best bit!

Formatting, reformatting, trying to get rid of that mysteriously blank page in the middle. All of that lays before me like a funpark ride that's broken down in the rain.


That wasn't an order, I just remembered that's something celebratory that I can actually have it (don't tell my doctor).

Well, for the next ten minutes until I go to bed it's going to be a full-on party at my house.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

1st to 3rd

Well, the weekend is drawing to a close and my highlight today was having a beautiful french lamb rack.

My local supermarket had packed them up and frozen them, and then something terrible had happened and they'd defrosted and had to be sold at a knock-down drag-out price.

While I was looking at them, certain all the while that they couldn't be frozen because it was on labels all over them, I started to calculate how many I could buy and freeze for a future date.

I know, right? Personally I think we're arriving at the supermarket far too early. My brain needs time to wake up long after my body has put in the hard yards.

The rest of my weekend, aside from the work I was complaining about bitterly yesterday, was tied up in doing the fantastic task of editing.

A task that is usually full of thrills and chills (yeah, where's my sarcasm mark when I need one) was rendered even more intolerable by the decision to change my beautiful 1st person manuscript into third person.

The best advice on this was proffered by my current editor who noted that people don't read books all at once, and when they pick them up it's easier for them to orient themselves if it's written in third person.

I get that. It wasn't really necessary that my manuscript be in 1st person. I'm quite happy to make my reader's lives easier.

I am no longer happy to do that.

It is too late to stop now.

All of the 'I' changes to 'she' and 'my' changes to 'her' are driving me mental. Not to mention that I got sick of doing them individually so used Word to find and replace. That means all the dialogue has to be turned back the other way, and I haven't managed to turn every possible punctuation source into every other possible punctuation result so there's still many, many changes to make.

There's also the problem that 'me' occurs inside a lot of other words. I asked word to change only the 'me' formats that had a space after them, but this also left me changing the theher back to theme and the meher back to meme.

Couldn't I hire a child to do this for me her? Apart from the work regulations and me her not having any, I she meant.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

The work week

Not getting enough of work during the week, I spent a half day today back in the office letting work eat up my weekend.

Granted, I would otherwise have simply been sitting on the couch and watching television, but...


That is how I choose to spend my leisure time. That's all the clue you need as to what I'd rather be doing.

On the other hand, it was pretty sweet being in there almost alone, and not remembering to keep jumping up every half hour to keep the air conditioning going. Luckily the lights don't require quite that much work or I would have been seriously snitty by the end of it.

It's odd how during the week working a half day seems like a treat, and by the weekend seems like a burden.

Still, it's over now. I should stop complaining.

However, I often don't do what I should, so I may just continue for the rest of the evening.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

I object

End of financial year has been and gone. Back when I was a humble (yeah, right) processor, EOFY was the busiest and most stressful time. Everything needed to be done. Everything needed to be loaded. Everything needed to be paid and married.

The joyful part was knowing that once I got past that I could relax. EOFY comes but once a year, and unlike Christmas it doesn't even leave me out of pocket.

I'm here to tell you that's where the good times are. In the rank and file of the office. In the nameless hordes that run the country while the upper echelons make noise. Workers unite.

But, oh no, I wanted a pay rise. Oh no, I wanted to have more influence in the workplace. Oh no, I didn't heed the suitcase-sized bags under the current team leaders' eyes and thought 'how hard could it be?'

It could be MUCH hard. MUCH hard, indeed.

EOFY is a picnic now. Get it on, get it all on. How simple and perfect is that ambition? How easy it would be to just do that and then get back to your normal pace of life.

But no. There is no normal pace of life. EOFY, tick.

Next comes Performance Reviews. Not even begun, tick.

What happens when that's all locked in? Do I get to relax? Oh, no. Relaxing is for plebs.

I get to set objectives. I hate them so much sometimes I want to cry, tick.

Due to the weirdness of my glorious team, I get to create four different sets of objectives. Three for them, and one for me.

The remainder of the office have standard staff objectives which I seem to have endlessly contributed to this week in what feels like some enormous groundhog day prank, and standard team leaders objectives which, ditto.

They don't apply to my staff. They don't even apply to me. Why doesn't everyone go away and leave me alone? Where has my sense of humour gone?

My only joy is that someday, far away at the end of August while I'm sunning myself beside the pool in the most perfect holiday spot in the world, I'll look back on this time and I'll
shriek hysterically
wish drugs were legal.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Kill your darlings

It's back to editing this week. Whenever I can tear myself away from my phone pursuits, I have been carefully, and not so carefully, trolling through every single word I've written down and seeing which ones make it through.

Depending on the time of day, this can vary. At the moment I'm about to go to bed, so the chances of all words making it through intact is very high, by tomorrow morning it will be lower.

However, just to keep things exciting, this evening I went all gung-ho and removed an entire chapter.

I'm still hurting. That cut went deep. I remember when I lovingly crafted all those lovely words and stacked them up in lines on the laptop screen dotting them with punctuation, and painting them with white space as deemed appropriate.

The fact I could remove the entire chapter without needing to change any other word kind of pointed out that it wasn't needed. I've heard of stand-alone books being hugely successful, but stand-alone chapters? Not so much.

Now my book looks so much smaller. It wasn't as though it was a short chapter, it was a halfway decent length. There were thousands of words. Gone forever.

Well, not really. They're actually in another word document waiting to see if I change my mind tomorrow and put them all back in.

It's not that likely. I don't like making decisions the first time. I'm even less in favour of going back and making them again.

Monday, 6 July 2015

The joys of blocks

On the day before I went on leave last week, a certain staff member who shall remain nameless introduced me to the joys of a game called BlockJam.

I missed out on the Tetris craze, but it seems now that wasn't through strength of will but more through lack of money for the large machines that Tetris was played on when I was a girl.

For I am hooked.

I'm currently editing my latest book, so I happily reward myself for a page or two of editing with a game of BlockJam. This was fine in the beginning when I was useless, but the better I got at making anticipatory decisions about where the blocks should go, the longer each game took.

When I started clocking up around twenty-thousand it started to come in at around twenty minutes. That's a long microbreak in anyone's workplace. Even the slack ones.

After playing for a few days I'd catch myself humming the accompanying music at odd points throughout the night. It annoyed me.

I turned the music off on the app, but I still hum it occasionally because the happy tune is stuck in my head. Just like Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday, is stuck in there. It's not pretty in that place. Don't poke it with a stick.

When I close my eyes at night waiting for sleep that's late in coming, I place pink squares on blue squares on orange lines on yellow lines, and smile.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Double-edged swords

When my darling and I fall in love with a television show we immediately face a conundrum.

When you truly, truly love something you want it never to end but you also want it all the time.

When the love you have is for a limited supply, that can cause a few issues.

Just this last week, we began watching a show for which we had access to the entire first season at once. God loves cable. We watched the first episode and thought it was good. We watched the second and thought it was great. We watched the third, the fourth, and the fifth and thought it was a top rating show. Within our household anyway.

Since then we haven't watched any episodes. There are only five left. We're halfway through, and this is a great show. How did we squander so much so soon when we have so little?

So, although we love the show and have access to new episodes we can't look at them.

It's not as bad as it is with QI. We save those episodes as they screen, and then parcel them out less than one per month so we never run out. We don't understand how people can safely live their lives without having constant access to new episodes of QI. It needs to be there when we need it.

Recently, we misjudged a series. We had two full seasons, and because the next season is due to start in August, we watched them with abandon.

We have none left.


I do occasionally miss the sweet old-fashioned days of television when to watch a show you had to be on the right channel at the time it was broadcast, or hope like hell that it would be repeated in a few years at a better time.

There are so many choices now. So many decisions to be made and every episode watched could spell future disaster. It's a tough life.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

KDP Select KENPs released

Since mid-June when Amazon first released news that its KDP Select program would be moving from a 'books borrowed' method of payment to a 'pages read' method of payment, I've been wondering what on earth that's going to mean for my monthly income.

Well, rather than having to wait until mid-August to find out, Amazon have helpfully released some figures this morning that may allow me to calculate out the proposed payouts.

This morning they confirmed again that the size of the KDP Select fund will be at least $11m for July, and they've also released figures to say that the total pages read (using KENPs - more on that later) was nearly 1.9 billion.

Yah. Finally some figures that aren't 'to make this easy to understand' figures pulled out of nowhere and good for nothing.

So, first things first, where do you work out how many pages your book is?

This information was released overnight (if you live in my time zone that is, God knows when YOU found out) into the KDP Select Bookshelf 'Promote and Advertise' button field. Exactly where Amazon said they would put it.

If you're used to calculating the number of pages based on a physical book, then you're probably in for a surprise.

My first novel 'Found, near water' clocked in at 366 KENPC (Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count). This is opposed to the physical page count I used previously which came in at 215 pages. My second novel 'Skeletal' clocked in at a massive 448 KENPC from a previous physical page count of 268 pages.

To turn that into word count figures it would be approximately 5.3 KENPC per thousand words. Unless you're using exclusively large words whereupon it's anybody's guess.

Now for the fun bit. How much am I going to get paid?

Making the assumption that the 1.9 billion pages read during June was based on the US billion, of one thousand million, and not the UK billion, of one million million, - in which case we're all screwed and are going to die starving in a gutter somewhere - then the formula seems to work out thusly:

$11,000,000 KDP Select Global Fund divided by 1,900,000,000 KENPC read equals 0.005789474

Multiply that figure by your individual KENPC to arrive at a payout figure for each book if read in full.

Therefore 'Found, near water' would nett me $2.11 in royalties, and 'Skeletal' would nett me $2.59.

That's a vast improvement on the $1.33-$1.35 ish I've been receiving lately.

Who'd have thought? GO AMAZON!

The 1.9 billion pages read has an element of pause for thought, though. Either there are far more titles out there with low page counts than I'd assumed, or the readers just aren't getting into the books on offer.

Either way, at this stage it looks like it might be an improvement for any writer who hasn't been trying to game the system by putting exceptionally low page count books on offer.

My main concern would be for children's books being taken out through KU or KOLL as their page counts will always be lower than young adult or adult offerings.

My current page read count (part way through day one of the new system) is currently showing at 272 KENPC read. Or $1.57 in cold, hard cash.

I just have to hope now that readers haven't been only getting through 11% of my novels before abandoning them, and I'm on a winning ticket.

If any other indie authors have feedback or figures on how this new system may work out for them, drop a line in the comments field below and cumulatively we can all try to work out where we stand in this brave, new world.