OOAK Discworld inspired Tiffany Aching Monster High hybrid doll on ebay UK (for JustGiving)

Doing what I can for a good cause while grieving for a great author who has influenced most of my creative life…

UPDATE: Tiffany sold for £56.00, which means I will be able to donate £44.80 (80%) to RICE as soon as the new owner has received her safely 🙂

Sewing and painting has been my recuperation from sports injury surgery in the last couple of months – and it looks like I’m still not done with treatment yet for a while. No fear – I’ll be back on topic imminently 🙂 Lisa xx

Screen Kiss Dolls

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For auction now – profits will go to RICE (Research Institute for the Care of Older People) via Lynsey Dalladay’s JustGiving page dedicated to Terry Pratchett. For full details and photos, please visit the listing.

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The Voodoo Viewpoint: Is new media stealing our souls and memories?

Halloween bookshelf

I haven’t blogged for a while, having had new things to deal with through the summer and autumn along with writing, and waiting for other things to be resolved – everyday life has got in the way, and all of it worthy of my time – so I can honestly say I don’t feel I’ve missed anything by not procrastinating online too much.

This post has been on my mind for a while over the past year, and I’ve turning it over further in my mind since a topic came up on Facebook regarding the well-roasted old chestnut of ebook vs. print books, and what might supplant them in the future. When I made my comment, I didn’t realise how much of an observation it really was. But the thought of it keeps returning to me, so I’ll attempt to dissect it further now. (I’ve used ‘Voodoo’ in the title as I was originally going to post it as Voodoo Spice first – but there is another relevance to the reference).

My comment on the post was:

I think real books will stick around for another reason – the same reason as real music disc collections, and real movie DVDs, and real photo albums. The death of these things will mean the end of being able to remember lost loved ones. Imagine going into an elderly relative’s last residence, and instead of shelves full of their favourite media that you can pick up and read and smell, and admire, all that’s there is a computer tablet full of password-protected cloud-storage erotica. Supposing they’re survived by 20+ family members all wanting a memento? Will they have to take turns hacking into his or her tablet to read their, erm, favourites???

It’s not only the issue of having physical objects with which to remember a loved one, though. When you first make a new friend, visit their home for the first time, you see immediately by their books, music, film collections, and photographs what you have in common. Without those, it takes far longer to define. How do you learn about a person who wears nothing on their sleeve in real life? Are they hiding something about their personality, their cultural and entertainment tastes, behind password-protected anonymous digital storage products? How much of their social media persona is genuine – do they really like Top Gear, or do they just ‘Like’ it on Facebook? How long does it take to make early judgements of compatibility when all you see in their home is the faceless packaging and housing of technology? Is this creating the hacking, snooping, prying, suspicious culture that troubles present-day relationships?

Are we sacrificing our personalities, our ability to connect with one another in real life without the social media screens, in favour of electronic packaging?

Back to the subject of bereavement and memories, there is another agenda surfacing to consider.

Electronic media itself has no re-sale value. The tablets and electronic devices can be re-sold, but they lose value in the very short term. Unlike physical books, vinyls, cassettes, picture frames, CDs, and DVDs – when you buy anything in digital format, to watch, read or listen to, its solvency value is zero. So even if your descendants, friends and family don’t want to share the digital tablet and know your passwords to enjoy your *ahem* favourites, they can only sell the tablet itself. Even if you have bought 70,000 books, movies, and songs in your lifetime, they do not add up to £70,000 worth of house clearance on ebay to divide among the mourners. They add up to zero.

They money you spend on electronic books and media to fill your device has gone for good. You cannot donate the products to an Oxfam bookshop after you have enjoyed them in order for others to benefit. You cannot have a yard sale or a car boot fair stand of portable entertainment to fund a party, or to pay a few bills. You have not invested your money in anything physically reminiscent that can be enjoyed as part of the soul of a lost loved one, or liquidated as an asset in the future.

The money has gone for good, into the great black hole of the business that also sold you the device to enjoy it on, or to store in some online cloud.

So in the future, without personal possessions for family and friends to remember us by – not even the chance to flick through the same books and photo albums we held, and no idea how to access our family photographs and music – and more and more social lives being conducted online – how will anyone remember their grandparents and great-grandparents beyond faces on a screen?

Will the youngest family members have the sense of identity and individual heritage that children before the digital age grew up with?

Will old people just die and disappear, leaving nothing behind but an online account full of media they spent thousands on, which is worth precisely nothing to their descendants even if they have the ability to access it? Will their living memories and personalities evaporate the second you tap on ‘Confirm shut down/log off device’?

Will folk start leaving clauses on their departure, that no-one is to hack into the tablet at all to avoid finding out how much porn and erotica they downloaded to keep them warm in their old age?

Never mind what to do with Granny, the last Will and Testament says we have to burn her Kindle first… aptly named device, if ever there was one. I see a new business opportunity looming – the “Kindle Crematorium” where dirty old reading habits go after you die…

It’s a mystery that leaves me very curious. I already find houses without books, music, photograph or film collections very odd – rather like pictures of home interiors in advertising, with no identity of the occupants visible. Sterile, like a showroom to sell a product or furniture lifestyle – not a working, living home. And if that is what remains in the future, when individuals die, what is left to know of them? An indentation in the sofa, perhaps – where they sat while playing Candy Crush Saga online?

So never mind that a computer tablet doesn’t provide the same decorative impact as a bookshelf, or provide the same soundproofing from your neighbours. Never mind that it’s a good way of hiding your reading habits, and a bad way of storing your nekkid selfies. It’s also a good way of spending your children’s inheritance – permanently. Throwing your small change onto the Kindle Fire (literally), never, ever to return as second-hand small change, ever again. Quite possibly thrown away along with the material potential for any of your descendants to remember you for more than one surviving generation…

Happy Halloween! 🙂 xxx

If you want to learn to how to format a print-on-demand book, publish and distribute for free, click here for my tutorial. You can also learn how to format ebooks and multimedia booksIf those still light your candle 😉 x

Current events – Writing Buddies 5th Anniversary exhibition at the Central Library, Southampton Civic Centre, 12-17 May 2014

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The Right Worshipful The Mayor of Southampton (Councillor Ivan White), centre, with Pam Whittington and Penny Legg, the founders of Writing Buddies, cutting the celebration cake yesterday at the opening of the exhibition. All photos: Lisa Scullard

I joined Writing Buddies back in 2010, having found them by chance while looking for a local writing group close to the New Forest.

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Writing Buddies is unique in that it isn’t a feedback and critique group, but rather a support group for the technicalities of living as a writer – where to take your writing, who can help, and if you are inclined, the technical details on how to publish.

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It’s free to join and we pay a couple of quid at the group meetings towards hire of the room at the Mercure Dolphin, Southampton, on the first Friday of every month.

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The 5th Anniversary cake was created by Christine Donovan, previous Rubery Book Award winner, who studied cake-making at Brockenhurst College

DSCF2382Members are from all ages, backgrounds and abilities, and as well as sharing progress on individual writing careers, they have supported other projects, including recording audio stories to be played on the radio for the visually impaired.

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Penny Legg discussing the work of Southampton Sight, with the Right Worshipful The Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Ivan White

Individuals can also volunteer to give informative talks at these monthly meetings. In June’s meeting, I’ll be giving a talk on copyright.

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The exhibition runs until this weekend, where you’ll be able to see examples of all of our work and other creative projects, in the main body of the library near the entrance.

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For more information on Writing Buddies, email Penny on penny@pennylegg.com

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Christine’s lovely cake went down a treat 🙂

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Until midnight Friday 16th May 2014, PST, you can download three of my ebooks for free from Amazon Kindle – Death & The City: Book One, Death & The City: Book Two, and One Stolen Kiss, written under my pen-name Lauren Boutain

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Enjoy 🙂

We are officially post-Apocalyptic…

At the first annual ‘1066 Walk of the Dead’ Hastings zombie walk…

Welcome to my personal 2012 round-up…

Two eye operations (resolving four years of eye infections and one year of sleep deprivation), three live zombie events, one Book Fair, one new 83-chapter parody novel blogged all the way to completion and published, four first dates, fifty pages of non-explicit quotes from my older books compared to prose and scenes in the Fifty Shades trilogy analysed very kindly by the legal office of Random House (who initially stated their author had never heard of my books, but investigated anyway, to assure me later that the list of similarities must be coincidental), the world didn’t end (and neither did the superstitions of everyone who believed they saved it), a very recent and encouraging response from the BIG romance publisher, DS-10 said she doesn’t need a dad around because watching Jeremy Clarkson and the lads on Top Gear tells her everything she needs to know, new cousins, family weddings, fantastic reunions, one stone and two dress sizes dropped, an unprecedented variety of editing and formatting jobs (from true-life books to cultural thrillers to creative self-help therapy to more zombies), accidentally deleting Sophie Neville’s blogger image source file for Funnily Enough four days before Christmas while trying to clean up unused duplicate images on Google+ (doh!), managed to pass yet another year without either having sex or watching any soap operas / reality TV / celebrity game shows, one charity book contributed to and associated book trailer made (New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan), around 165 Youtube clips and mash-up tunes shared on this blog, from Reaps007 to movieclips (I don’t have a problem, really), meeting Olympic gold multi-medallist Ben Ainslie and remembering what it feels like to be star-struck on that occasion, around 1000 sunset photographs / 370 zombie photographs / 240 family photographs / 7 cat photographs / 5 hedgehog photographs and 1 photograph of my car (not by a speed camera, I have to say)…

Wishing you all a happy and merry and peaceful post-Mayan-Apocalypse future! 🙂 xxxxx

The Youtube trailer for ‘New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan’ shot and edited by yours truly…

New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan – the book trailer

A Charity Anthology – all proceeds go to the Japanese Red Cross.

Here’s what I’ve been working on for the past week, and the reason that I’ve been out with a camera in the Forestry Commission zone at the crack of all sorts of unsociable hours, in all sorts of places that other people normally get to themselves, with their imaginary dogs and stuff. Yes, I avoided the car-parks with the camper vans in at 5:00a.m, in particular. Pity, because there was an awesome bit of lake fog and tree reflections going on there. I even had the black hoody with skull patches on that morning, so probably not great news for the state of anybody’s sleeping-bag if they saw me.

Maybe after my car’s service I’ll give that one another shot. The car will be running on newly cleaned-up ‘stealth mode’ which means I might get some good shots of deer too, as well as not disturbing the happy campers too much 😉

I did get a couple of shots of a deer this time, while it was bolting away from me in the gorse. I’d driven through a bit of a pea-souper that morning knowing there was some high ground at one of the Forestry car-parks, which on a good day was above ground fog level. And it was spot on, so I parked in the turning on one side and crossed over to the other, the only life in sight being a herd of cows about 250 yards away, grazing on the verges of the main road in silence.

The best view into the valley was just beyond a patch of scrub on the far side, with lots of nice artistic trees sticking up out of the mist. As I got closer and switched on the camera, suddenly there was the sound of hoofbeats, and a Bambi-butt rapidly receding into the gorse right in front of me. I got two shots of her at a distance by the time the camera was active, rather rewarding that she stopped to turn and look at me for both. Probably wondering why I wasn’t wearing verderer-khaki, and carrying a rifle. She kept poking her head up out of the bushes to check up on me while I got my shots. But they weren’t artistic shots worthy of the video above, so I just kept those aside for fun.

I headed back to the car after a few minutes, and got a shock crossing the road, the zombie Cows of the Dead were only about 80 yards away, in exactly the same grazing formation, as if they’d drifted on an undead tide. Sod that. Back in the car, next site.

Next shots were from the woods, looking out from under the trees. The forest makes weird noises at 5:30a.m. Honking, hooting, cawing – more darkest Africa than British garden sparrow wildlife. It reminded me of what Sophie Neville said to me about how to spot leopards hiding in trees, so I gave them a pretty good look while I was there, just to check. There’s a good reason you’re supposed to be able to sense someone’s eyes on the back of your head. Got my shots and didn’t stick around there long either.

The next car-park was totally deserted, which was awesome. News obviously travels fast about photographers stalking isolated public access locations at ungodly hours. Did see more cows, of the more lively variety this time, but they were guarding young calves, so I stayed on my side of the barrier and left them to it after a couple of snaps that I wanted.

The sun eventually came out to play above the fog at my next location, about an hour after sunrise was actually due, so I got enough shots to complete the project above, combined with some I’d taken at the beach back in February, and a couple of odd ones from March. For the lake sunset last week, I was out for two hours and took 455 shots, nearly froze my hands off in the process, but the swan and geese came out to play, so it was worth it.

The charity anthology ‘New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan’ is set for release in June – for updates and background news, including contributors, check out the New Sun Rising blog.

(I’ve got a literary contribution in there too!) L xxx 🙂

No pain, no gain.

Went in for another eye operation yesterday. I was short of sleep, so even though I was meant to be awake I probably dozed off while it was done, as I don’t recall much, except where they asked me to blink or look up. I’d asked for a sedation anyway because the eye surgery I’ve had under local anaesthetic previously, I had a tendency to chat throughout and ask what was going on. 🙂

Anyway, was discharged with a lot of eye drops and a big white patch over one eye, and went to meet my friend Sophie Neville, who was coming in to town for a charity lunch and service. So I read more of Sue Moorcroft’s Love Writing in the square outside the Royal Exchange at Bank Station, which I had plenty of time for. A fatality on the line had meant her train was diverted. It started to rain, so I went to shelter on the steps, and as I updated her where I was, she suggested by text that I go inside and grab a coffee. Which I did, feeling rather self-conscious amongst all the City types with my eye patch and jeans, and when I took my hoody off, my hospital tag still in place, it turned out. But the staff were lovely and no-one batted an eyelid, so I enjoyed my coffee and Sophie arrived presently – only nearly two hours later than she’d wanted to arrive.

She gave me an interesting tour of the company building where the buffet lunch was held for the Drapers – it was one of the locations for The King’s Speech, filmed as rooms in Buckingham Palace. I was introduced to one of the Welsh Guard, whom Sophie had joined on a survival camping trip in the jungle, and an eminent allergy specialist – still practising at the age of 99 – who mentioned the next Latex Allergy Conference, which is a growing problem.

I have the skin contact allergy to latex, which was why my operation was first thing that morning. Two hundred children were also going in for surgery that day, and I was scheduled before them to ensure no latex particles if possible would be in the theatre. It’s something they take very seriously.

On the way back, we talked about Sophie’s work with the Waterberg Welfare Society, supporting HIV+ communities in South Africa, helping families locally with receiving the right medication, entitlements, and nursery care for working parents or sibling guardians, enabling them to work or complete school. And how charity work was a minefield of red tape, with audits and accounts to be filed and scrutinised – but also how rewarding. Comic Relief is among their supporters, and it was input like that which meant Sophie and her friends learned how to organise a proper schedule of work and implement it according to a drafted plan.

We also moved on to the subject of blind dates, and dating sites. Her quote, which she’d been told when looking, was that “If you want to find a husband, you have to join a Society!” – so she did, and hey presto, did indeed meet her husband. And had a number of stories of ‘Silly girls’ who got themselves into scrapes with notorious men that she’d turned down herself in the past – the kind of men who hung out with Hugh Hefner, or were related to courtesans of the Royal Family…

But enough about dating. I won’t be doing any for a few weeks, while my eye heals up.

Sophie Neville does however have some lovely memoirs which are in the process of polishing before she publishes them. You can find links to her book blogs on her website http://sophieneville.net and also read the first three chapters of Funnily Enough on Authonomy.

Enjoy! 🙂