The Nonsense Farmer

I have had a few ideas for poems running around my head for a while but am still plowing through edits of ‘The Fifth Coin.’ I got bored with this in the last few days though and decided I needed to write (strange that for a writer!). I have had for a while wanted to write a nonsense poem in the style of Dr. Seuss. When I decided that would be my next poem ‘The Nonsense Farmer’ just seemed to flow out of my brain. Some of the rhyming could be better but it is supposed to just be a fun piece and has helped me to refocus on the incessant editing I currently seem to be doing. You can read the poem on wattpad in the collection ‘Bad Poetry You probably never want to read’ or look at it below…

 

The Nonsense Farmer

There was a man lived in Blicket Bload

In a farm right down Yackity Road

He had twenty acres of rich land

Where he grazed ten pickety pand

Eight nickety nous, four hackety hees

And a rackty ripe with nobbly knees

The only problem with his own flock

Was that they always got themselves stuck

The nickety nous are furry and pink

They really love to drink and to drink

They have long tails and a little snout

To suck up water and the occasional trout

The problem with one nickety nou

Is he drank so much water he was stuck in a shoe

He puffed up so big and squeezed in the toes

But when he moved he was wedged with his nose

Sticking out of the hole where your feet go

To get out, the water he had to blow

Over the fence into the neighbour’s garden

Then pop round and say to them ‘pardon!’

Next farmer went to check his hackety hees

But you’ll never guess, they were all up in trees

Now the hackety hee is a ground dwelling fellow

About cow sized and all over yellow

With the odd spot of green on their bum

They tend to really stick with their mum

To climb up a tree is mostly unheard

That domain was made for a bird

But something had given them quite a fright

For they had been staying in the trees all night

They were shaking and shivering, too scared to come down

Across their long faces they all wore a frown

He had to grab their favourite food

A strange looking vegetable called a klood

Each was thin and bendy and blue

Sticky and sappy and dripping with goo

The hackety hees jumped straight for their treat

Completing their descent with an incredibly feat

Of twisting and turning within the air

Within just a moment they were now there

Stood on the grass munching so fast

That those poor kloods just would not last

They charged at the farmer baying for more

It was such a haste they knocked him to the floor

They pleaded and pleaded with their clacking sound

But poor old farmer was not waiting around

He charged and he fled away from the place

It was almost as if he was in new a race

To get as far from his animals as he could

At least at this he really was good

Next he came for the rackty ripe

But he could not find him try as he might

He looked at the field and up the mountain

He looked in the bins and in the fountain

He looked in his favourite spot by the stream

And tried to coax him with scones and cream

He looked up in despair to a great height

And there was rackty ripe stuck in a pipe

How did he get all the way up there?

He must have climbed ‘cos there was no stair

How to get it out, where could he go

There was no doubt, he would have to blow

The farmer bent over and drew in some air

Then blew through the pipe with considerable care

At first nothing happened so he had to blow more

Then out flew racty ripe with a terrible roar

He arched over the house and field back yonder

Making a noise louder than thunder

He hit the barn with an ear splitting crash

And on into the pond with a great splash

He left a hole in the barn the shape of his body

The pond was now all dirty and muddy

The fish had been flung almost half of a mile

To get back to their home would be quite a trial

The farmer was happy another animal was free

But there was one left to complete his spree

He ran to his collection of pickety pand

But luckily for him they were very bland

They had fur of beige and no spots at all

They did not get stuck or lost or fall

There they still were grazing in the field

With one whistle blow they did all yield

And came to the farmer all faces a beaming

With joy and love their whole bodies were teaming

He gave the group a hug, one mass of fur

And like a large cat they let out a big purr

From these he wished the others would learn

For at least the pickety pand were not a concern

Female Dr. Who – from dissappointment to trepidation to excitement

Jodie Whittaker Doctor

The more I think about Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor the more excited I get.

Something in my head told me that the new Doctor would be a woman but when it was first announced that Jodie Whittaker would be taking over I was a little disappointed. Not out of any sexist agenda but more because having a female Doctor could change the whole dynamics of the show. It has been said that changing male roles to female is not the way forward and that writers should just create more strong female characters. I am great believer in this. That is one reason I love Star Wars so much, each main character is designed well and there are both female and ethnic minority roles who do not feel like they are just shoe horned in.
The more I thought, and the more rubbish I read on the Internet, I realised I was being unfair. We need to give Jodie a chance like we do all Doctors and judge her on her performances (hoping the writers do her justice and do not write her as a strong woman but a strong Doctor with plenty of quirks). She is a great actress after all. But as I was thinking this something else happened, I started to think about Michelle Gomez as Missy. She was great in that role and her performances did not distance her from the role of the Master, she was an excellent addition to that character’s timeline.
So why can’t Jodie Whittaker make an excellent Doctor? I for one will give her a chance. I am now interested to see who the companion will be, will it be a male? Let’s hope it is not just some eye candy or Dr. Who will have gone backwards. Maybe Bill can come back and fancy the Doctor leading to an interesting relationship.
Maybe all my concerns are because I wanted Idris Elba, but he would make a better Master anyway (if he/she has survived)! Right, now the only disappointment is that we need to wait till Christmas to see Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor. I want to see it now!

 

Rejection doesn’t hurt when you’re a pessimist

I final submitted a short story to an online and print based magazine. It is a strange story that is a little sci-fi but not really and a little fantasy but not really. It moves away from character and focuses on implied mysticism. Safe to say that finding an appropriate magazine to submit it to was a challenge. The one I found focused on left field sci-fi. I suppose I really did not expect it to get in so when it was rejected I was not surprised, even when it got rejected for the reasons I thought it would. However, I thought I would be hurt when that happened but I am really not. Maybe it is because I know other people get rejected all the time or the fact that there are more magazines out there I can submit to. It could even be that I know I can independently release it through Smashwords or Kindle and it won’t cost me a penny (although it may also not get read). The thing that did frustrate me, though, is that many places that want short stories like ones that are about people and are a bit quirky. They call it contemporary but I call it things I don’t want to write about! That is why it is so hard to find a place for some of my writing. It is almost a little too mainstream whilst being not mainstream enough. So the search for my place in the market goes on.

I think another area that helps me is that I see myself as a hobbyist author. I have a full-time job and only write because I enjoy it, therefore if writing gets me nowhere it is no skin off my nose. As long as one person reads and likes my stories then I have an audience. Plus I will subject my children to my writing when they are older! So, being a pessimist has not always helped me but I do feel with writing it does. Robin McKinley said ‘Write what you want to read. The person you know best in this world is you.’ I write stories that I want to read so as long as I keep doing that I will be happy.

So what next for my short story? I will submit it to a few more magazines and if it goes nowhere expect it on Smashwords for free in the near future.

Breath of the Wild

breath of the wild

Like others before me I will continue to heap praise on Breath of the Wild

It is very rare I get to play computer games these days and even rarer that I blog about them. That alone should tell you how amazing I think The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is. I know I am a little late with a post about it but I could not help but add to a growing list of items that heap praise on the game.

I remember when I was in my late teens and ended up playing Morrowind for 14 hours straight one day (I felt pretty rough after that!). Never before or since have I dedicated so much time to one computer game. However, that is what I feel I could do with Breath of the Wild were it not for work and having children. I have already fired up my Switch for a quick session and lost track of time, saying I will play for an hour and ending up on there for nearly three. It is that brilliant blend of open world sandbox style game play along with a gripping (if not pretty much the same as every other Zelda game) storyline to follow. I cannot get on with massive multiplayer online games and I find sandbox alone does not offer enough incentives to make me play, I like a bit of old school but with an added twist of new age stuff. Oh yeah, before I go any further I must say I am a bit of a Nintendo fanboy but I am not ashamed to be biased towards the Japanese giant. If you want a nice balanced review you have come to the wrong place.

So I suppose the real questions are why do I love the game so much and why is it better than previous Zelda games? I think it is because they have ripped apart the Zelda rule book, keeping some of the best features but changing many. No longer is the game linear, you can do any dungeon in any order. If you can call them dungeons, more like a few puzzles. Although I do not think there is a bad Zelda game in the main series, they all were starting to resemble not quite so good rehashes of Ocarina of Time, usually adding in one or two unique elements. But this new incarnation is so much different.

I really like the shrines, they condense the ideas of dungeons into one or two puzzles and in turn do not need to conform to the dungeon you are in. I feel this makes them more creative, it is not a case of, “oh I have just unlocked the hookshot so all the puzzles in this section of the game will require that.” You actually get given all the powers you need at the start of the game so have to really think about which you use where, making some puzzles really clever and meaning there are more than one way to solve them. The idea of combining shrines as travel portals and the way you get extra hearts and stamina from the spirit orbs they give you also make them fit into Hyrule much better.

cut grass rupees

Link is going to be poor now he can’t get rupees from grass, might find a few in pots though!

There is a great Zelda t-shirt that has Link as a hobo holding a sign that says ‘will cut grass for rupees.’ You can now no longer do this, you have to be a lot cleverer with your money. This goes for hearts as well, now you need to be a skilled chef and combine ingredients well and take what you create on your journey, stocking up before you set off. It all requires a bit of forward planning, almost as if Zelda has grown up. I cannot tell you how many times I have died in battle due to being ill prepared or just rushing in.

The world too is huge, so many areas to explore but it has been designed in such a way that you will not wander for hours before finding something. I mean you will wander for hours just to see what is over the next hill, and the one after that, and the one after that but there is always something there. Along with this you can use the travel portals so you can get to an area you know quickly if you are lost.

I really like the different armour that you can change for different situations and the fact you can upgrade these as well as accessing increased skills such as climbing, stealth and swimming up waterfalls. It would be nice if you could do the same with the weapons. Some break far too easily and if you have not stocked up on good weapons you can come unstuck in a battle when your best blade bites the dust. Maybe a Morrowing/Oblivion/Skyrim form of fixing weapons via an item, or a blacksmith you can access to mend them for rupees would help.

I am, rather sadly, really excited by the camera app on your Sheikah Slate (yes I know it is a medieval iPad!), the idea of collecting images of each item to make an encyclopedia of all you will encounter on your travels excites the collector in me. I know you are supposed to use them with the detector to help you locate items but I just want a full set of pictures, much like a small child with a sticker book.

This post may be a loved up splurge but all in all The Legend of Zelda:Breath of the Wild is a world-class game and one I hope will win game of the year. There is enough to draw in old Zelda fans with links to previous games, such as characters and locations, as well as gameplay for new fans; there is even enough new features to make hardcore Zelda fans feel it is fresh and new. The only real improvement I would like to see is a level system where the more you use a weapon the better you get at using similar ones, like a stat for spears, swords, bows etc. As well as this there could be an overall set of stats that could be levelled up. Maybe that is a bit too much Elder Scrolls or maybe it is because I am the archetypal level grinder, trying to upgrade my characters and find as many secrets as I can before I embark on the main quest.

My other hope for future Zelda titles is we get to explore a new world, so many are set in Hyrule now that it is all getting a bit boring. Even though Hyrule is central to the plot I would like to explore new locations and meet new creatures. Link’s Awakening and Majora’s Mask were set in different locations and were both strong games in their own right.

I hope this homage to Breath of the Wild makes sense, it is more spilling thoughts onto a page than a balanced reviewed but I wanted to post about it because, more than anything else, it is affecting my writing schedule. Right I could go edit one of my manuscripts but instead I am off to see if I can find a bear to ride on, because that it just plain awesome!

Helping in a Library

Love_the_Library_logo_3[1]Maybe it is because I am now an avid reader, maybe it is because I write, maybe it is just because I have grown up but recently I have found helping in a library to be quite therapeutic. It is coming to the end of the year at the school I am teaching at and, as per usual with a set of children not understanding the intricacies of library systems, the books are a mess on the shelves. There are Rs in the B section, junior fiction in the senior section and some children do not realise that RAN comes before REB! I decided to help organise the books, helping to work out what was missing and putting them back in the right places. Apart from the fact that I have now found a few more books I would like to read (not good as I already have a massive book pile!), I found that I enjoyed putting them in order. Maybe it is actually the authoritarian in me! As a child I would have found the monotonous task a little soul-destroying but now I am having fun. I tried to think about why and I feel that as a writer I am helping other writers by doing this work. I am also giving a little back to the readers (the few I have!). It almost feels like I am doing the dirty work again, the first step on a longer journey as if I am now some sort of apprentice. It is almost like the first stage is to organise the books, next is to scan them out, then I can read them and finally I can move on to writing my own. It is a strange and weird feeling. In many ways this is a bit of a pointless post but I would really like to promote helping out in a library, even just for one day. As a writer let’s give a little back to the readers and the general community. Oh yeah, another good reason is that there is a sense of power in using the scanner as well, like I am lord of the books. “Why is this late?” “Have you tried this book?” “Where are you going, that book has not been scanned?” Right, I will get of my high horse now and attempt to finish my editing so I can release one of the many manuscripts I have sitting in Google Docs, just as soon as I have moved Tolkien before Tolstov!

Planet of the Ducks

At last I have finished my first pass of ‘The Fifth Coin.’ For the last few weeks I have been itching to do some writing (editing really is painful!) so have decided to add another piece of flash fiction to my sci-fi collection ‘The First Flash of Hope.’ I have had the idea for the story for some time but managed to stop myself writing it to focus on editing, until now. I have added a bit of horror in there as well as sci-fi and played on the idea of one species taking over the world (yes it is inspired by Planet of the Apes!). It may seem a little silly but there is a twist at the end. I really like it and think it is quite clever, but you may just realise what is happening straight away. Anyway, you can read it on wattpad.

Suppose I should start the second pass of ‘The Fifth Coin’ so I can send it to publishers and get rejected! Oh, and if you wanted to know, ‘A Close Shave with Destiny’ is still with beta readers so expect that out at some point!

The Book With No Pictures

Book No Pictures

The Book With No Pictures is firmly becoming a family favourite

It is very rare that a book makes a large impression on my three year old son. As for me, reading children’s books every night I find many merge into one collective mass of stereotypes and twee endings. Recently we got ‘The Book With No Pictures’ by B.J. Novak from the library. My son had his five year old cousin over and I was reading both boys their bedtime stories, I was told I could choose so picked ‘The Book With No Pictures’ amongst others. When we got to that book both my son and his cousin protested, they did not want me to read them something that had nothing to look at in it. I pressed my advantage of being the father figure and was allowed to read it to them as long as they got another book as well.

The idea of ‘The Book With No Pictures’ is that it gets adults to say silly things out loud. Very quickly it had the three and five year old laughing loudly and repeating the comments I was saying. As soon as I finished they wanted me to read it again, in fact I had to stop them asking for rereads so they could get to bed on time. The book really does have no pictures but that does not matter, it is the words (and the fact it tricks an adult into saying silly things) that the children will enjoy.

The next day when we got up, ‘The Book With No Pictures’ was the first thing they asked for, ahead of CBeebies! We then went out to a farm park and both were singing the silly song in the book (it is only two lines so easy to remember) and saying out loud (shouting) many of the  funny lines the book makes adults say. My son even asked for the book again at bedtime. If we are getting intellectual then this is the classic story of never judging a book by its cover, but really I just wanted to tell you how much we enjoyed the book. So if you are looking for a silly book to read at bedtime, ‘The Book With No Pictures’ is a sure-fire hit!