Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Quick Post - Pre-Vamp Conference Write-Up Teaser

I promised that I'd write up a review for a recent conference that I attended at the University of London on Vampires: Myths of the Past and Future. It was three days jam packed with papers and discussions and it's not something I'll manage in one post. I'll be cracking on with this later on this week since the timely release of Breaking Dawn Part 1 has brought vampire fiction back to the mainstream for a while.

For now I give you a log from Who's Jack by Joe West on women and the Twilight franchise. His mate Kaja ('rhymes with Fire not Badger') is also my mate Kaja who I attended the above conference with. you can read the article here:  http://www.whosjack.org/in-my-opinion-twilight-women-me/

I'll be returning to some of the issues raised in her comments, but I agree most strongly with the need to redress the way in which the readers/viewers of these books/films are continually being vilified and patronised as if they are somehow not able to rationally separate themselves from the fantasy of the texts. I know many people who have read the books and seen the films and the only place so far that I have encountered the hysterical obsession that these texts supposedly engender is in academia.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Not Your Usual Post About Sexism on the Internet

As usual I haven't blogged in a while and I'm doing so now in order to have a rant. Well, sort of a rant. My blog-rants never turn out the same as my everyday life 'soapbox' incidents. You can identify these by either my Mother or my other half murmuring 'she's off again' somewhere safely out of range. Because the blog is written and edited, my rants often turn into something more positive and affirmative, rather than me just letting off steam.

Before I begin, I'd like to preface with a 'full disclosure' style statement; I am what could technically be termed a feminist.

This is a tricky affirmation to make particularly on the internet (see image above). The debate on sex, gender and equality is one whose waters are muddy at best and this debate is in the early stages of talking about feminisms plural, rather than trying to incorporate sometimes contradictory ideals, views, opinions and theories under one all-encompassing banner of FEMINISM. Many aspects of my life would, to some, disqualify me as a 'proper feminist'. (See mention of other half above. Said other half is male and we are engaged. Oh, the scandal.) I am also seen to be the victim of the 'have it all' generation, where I have a career (of sorts) and the intention to have a family. I am most definitely heteronormative, and happy in my relationship and with my life choices. I sometimes think I need more hours in the day to even begin to achieve the things on my daily to-do list, but this says more about my ambition and determination, than it does about my gender. I am also open minded and (I think) tolerant of other social, sexual, class and political positions. I do not call myself a feminist because I think that women are better than men, or under some misguided belief in a need to redress the balance of gender power relations to have men suffer the same as women have for decades. I am a feminist because I think about inequalities in all aspects of society and I want everyone else to do the same. I am not really interested in debating the issue of maternity and paternity leave in the pub (again). However if that gets even one person thinking about how they view the world and the other people in it then yes, I'll tell you that my MLitt was in Women, Culture and Society and set myself up for a hour of ear bashing about how the extension of women's maternity leave cripples small businesses and that besides women used to give birth in a field and then go back to work, so why do they need to much time off (genuine example).

I encounter discrimination all the time, not least because of the combination of my age, gender, body-type and hair colour. I am stereotyped as a blonde and think that this, above all else, drives people's first impressions of me and thus their behaviour towards me. I have lost track of the times people have firstly spoken with me on the phone, only to say 'I thought you would be a brunette' when they meet me in person. My appearance does not match my personality, apparently. At times, this is an advantage and while morally a tad suspect, I do sometimes leave people with their opinion that I am a bit dim intact. On other occasions I enjoy disavowing them of their opinion, and again sometimes I find this a chore.

I do not, however, attribute these small and relatively insignificant instances of discrimination to sexism and gender inequality which is still inherent within our culture, and the tenancy to attribute every act of discrimination or injustice to plague the female populace as a direct result of patriarchy astounds me. It was for good reason that Simone de Beauvoir claimed that women of her generation were complicit in their own oppression, and this is a notion that is as unpopular today as it was in 1949.

There is an apparent trend in the interactions between women I know and respect to enter into a blame culture where many, if not all, of their perceived injustices are the fault of either the patriarchal system or individual men. I recognise that cultural and social inequalities play a large part in the lives of many women and that these are very real, pressing issues to be highlighted and discussed. I understand (believe me) the therapeutic effects of a good moan, this blog being case and point. However we need to check that urge when it leads us down the very route we are bemoaning and turns us into hypocrites. Yes, there are problems in our society and not least that of continued gender equality at home and in the workplace, and yes, there is a tendency to put gender issues on the back burner in the event of even a minor political crisis, never mind major events such as the fight for civil rights or a world-wide recession.

This does not give you a free pass to be sexist. Getting together for self-congratulatory, patronising 'oh men, aren't they useless? Aren't they lucky we put up with them? How would they do anything without us?' sessions is wrong* and detracts from the times when you speak out against genuine oppression. Telling someone off for judging you based on an arbitrary act of biology, such as your genitalia, is a much more difficult position to maintain if you've just had a conversation about certain characteristics of 'all men.' It doesn't make their position right, but it makes it much harder to convince them otherwise.

At the risk of plagiarising from a friend, if you're not sure if something is sexist reverse the genders in the paradigm and see if you're still happy with it. Another good 'quick check' on opinions and behaviour is to check your generalisations by substituting it with another generalisation, one you are pretty sure is entirely discriminatory and unfair. For example, 'all French people are cheese eating surrender monkeys' if substituted to 'all black people are cheese eating surrender monkeys', while severely lacking in the accuracy of its stereotype, it is so shockingly and obviously racist I can't quite believe I've typed it up and published it on the internet, for everyone to see even if its just an example of what's wrong with reverse-discrimination. *gulp* I can't guarantee that I'll not edit that out, but it makes my point. Also, try to avoid generalisations at all, if you can. They rarely attest to the wonderfully multifaceted and contradictory aspects of human nature.

On another note, most feminists do not think that all men as sexist. Heck, most women do not think all men are sexist. If there is any group who can be said to think that all men are sexist, it's sexist men. It is perhaps worth remembering this when you make a sexist remark that you do not actually endorse by your daily behaviour or ideals as those who do hold these beliefs will see this as further justification of these. Just something worth thinking about, and also the reason behind my attempts to stop playfully calling my other half a poof for not liking spicy food. (very wrong of me, regardless of the fact that I am neither homophobic, nor think that so called effeminate features and behaviours in a man is a bad thing.)

The image above comes from http://www.gabbysplayhouse.com/?p=1444 and contains an interesting discussion in the comments. Read those only if you are prepared for it, but I recommend you take a look at the comic anyway. And in case I get accused of trivialising the issues that women face in our patriarchal society, I would like to refer you to one of the author's responses to the many comments accusing the comic of sexism against men:

"saying it’s reverse sexism just doesn’t cut it for me. that’s such a cop-out of deliberate ignorance as to what happens to women every day, because of men, that it’s actually kind of making my forehead hurt just trying to wrap my head around it. are there really THAT many men who live in fear of being murdered by their spouses? are you really THAT worried about your state legislators forcing you to bring a baby to term after you were raped? do you feel at all pressured to get breast implants by your spouse? are your parents coercing you to breed? is your husband forcing you to? do you every weigh the benefits of getting a pint of ben [and] jerry’s at 7-11 against the predatory male attentions from male strangers that you will have to field walking there [and] back? if you DO get raped, do you really worry that a jury of your “peers” will then call you a slut and say you must have been asking for it, by virtue of your wearing makeup at the time? do you worry about being murdered for saying “i wanna be president”? are you forced to flirt with men just to make them listen to your words at your job? were you conditioned to make babies and be a docile manservant from babyhood? does society base your worth on how coy, young, helpless, starved and fragile you look? are you judged in daily life primarily as a dick receptacle?"

It should be noted that despite some of the comments, Gabby is male. Not for ant reason other than to note how commenter's tones change when he points out that he is, in fact a man. Also, the way that he points this out to people is quite amusing: "I just asked my penis and, apparently I am male" (paraphrase).

My main point is that discussing the issues of sex, gender and sexuality and our expressions of them is difficult. What we have to do is make sure that we are constantly aware of our behaviour. Women have it tough, as the examples in Gabby's comment are testament to, but do we really want men to have it just as tough? Do we want to pass objectification on to our sons, or our nephews, or our students, or our friends? Are issues with the unattainable image of female beauty negligible because men are beginning to face the same kind of pressure?

* (Yes, I am talking to you Loose Women)

Friday, 28 October 2011

NWD and NaNoWriMo...Is everything an acronym these days?

So, I've finally bit the bullet and signed up for NaNoWriMo after years of thinking that I was too busy to participate, didn't have any ideas, hadn't researched that one idea I do have enough...you get the picture. I've made a tonne of excuses in the past mostly out of fear of putting pen to paper. As Jill Dawson put it in The Guardian

"Not beginning protects you from the disappointment – no, shame – of reading what you have written and finding it rubbish. It also prevents you from an equally disturbing possibility: discovering that you can write. What then have you been doing all those years? Success or failure can both be avoided by never starting at all – this then is the spell that procrastination casts."

That's exactly how I've felt, really until I got into blogging. Having a reasonably regular writing outlet like the blog where I write, proof and edit has been a big part of getting over the fear of writing that first sentence. NaNoWriMo offers a further incitement to keep going with it. Like with the Writers Challenge bringing me new followers to write for, committing to something which insists that you write everyday like NaNo is a fantastic way to begin to flesh out your novel, to write freely without plan or plot or editing to hold you back and is, at least in theory, a device for getting you first draft down on paper. I'll be keeping you up to date on how the theory plays out, and if I find myself stuck in the editing loop, or if I manage to just go with it, warts and all. On the up side, I have a fantastic support network here in Dundee of fellow creative writers who either are or have participated in NaNo and who are excited and enthusiastic about me finally getting writing creatively in a serious, committed way. I've already had offers of help in the form of tutoring and forming a writing group, just from telling people that I'm all signed up and ready to go.

And speaking of a supportive literary scene in Dundee, this week sees the return of the wonderful Dundee Literary Festival and the launch of New Writing Dundee Six. The ethos of the creative scene in Dundee to encourage emerging talent is exemplified by the Festival School which took place at the beginning of this week and the new issue of New Writing Dundee, where first time authors and poets as well as established names re published together. The publication launches on Saturday 29th October at 7.30pm in the Dalhousie Building with Books, Food and Music.

I'm incredibly proud of the publication, of the literary vibe in Dundee this week and being a part of it. Watch this space for photos and reviews of Literary Festival events coming next week.

Monday, 24 October 2011

I'm not rude...honest (Quick Post)

I'm not ignoring your comments, but for some reason I can't comment on my own blog beacuse my google account apparently doesn't have the acess rights to comment on my own goddamned page.

Belugh. Never mind, I'll just have to settle for popping by your blogs and commenting there.

Kar x
Because it's obligatory to have a picture on my blog posts, and this one is pretty, if not exactly relevant. 

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Normal Service Will Resume Shortly. Thank You For Your Patience.

"so…where does an idea go, nowadays? to the blog? to an email to a friend? to my journal? to a novel? to an opera? would you measure these things any differently if i told you the material was basically all the same dough, just a differently-shaped fucking cookie?" Amanda F Palmer

I've been meaning to blog about a good many things for quite a while. I havn't really gotten back into the swing of things since the submission of the chapter and the holiday in the US, however a few things have come to mind about writing, editing (both my work and the New Writing Dundee project) that are worth blogging about and I'll be getting to those over the weekend, so watch this space for those.

Right now I have spent the day mostly procrastinating from my thesis second chapter, and have been once again incredibly inspired to write something by Amanda F Palmer.* She's an indie musician from the US who writes and sings fantastic songs, awesome live performances and a brilliantly addictive blog. That the fact that she is married to Neil Gaiman is not the coolest thing about her speaks volumes. I might do my Confessions post about Neil next week so that you get what I mean.

Her blog (linked above) actually includes a pie chart of the general occupation of her brain at any given time. Go read it, it's awesome.

Anyway, what this has got me thinking about is the nature of the blog and why I've been absent for so long. I'd pretend that it's because I've been too busy to write, or because I've got StayFocused on my Chrome which is set to block Blogger after about 20minutes, however it's not really true. I'm getting round StayFocused right now by switching to my so-ancient-its-powered-by-a-water-mill Internet Explorer, and as I've discussed with a fellow blogger friend often, writing a blog post takes at most about 30 minutes. I could just watch 30 minutes less TV and thus find time.

Yes, part of it is that while being a full-time student with a part-time job, and a family, and all of the other things to do that come along with life like food shopping and housework, when doing something that isn't vital (thesis, food, paid employment) you feel guilty and anxious. Not always guilty enough not to do it however. What really happened was that I came to value the process of blogging less. I didn't have a Writers Campaign to spur me on to post, and most of my followers haven't deserted me while I've been AWOL. You event still comment, despite the fact that I haven't commented on your blogs in forever. (I promise I do still read though).

I began thinking that this was a waste of time. I started drafting posts that never went out, or writing about things just because I hadn't posted in a while. Doing that makes for bad posts.

Two things changed my thinking on that this week. Brooke Magnanti (aka Belle de Jour) was on Stephen Fry's Plant Word on Sunday. I met Brooke at a book event at Glasgow's Aye Write festival and she was as eloquent and engaging then as she was in the back of Stephen Fry's taxi. Her book deals came out of her wanting an outlet and starting a blog. The world of blogging may be very different now to when she started, but she's still involved.

More importantly for my wake-up call to the importance of blogging (for me) was Amanda's (self-confessed) wine-and-altitude-fuelled blog post about her blogging. Despite being a stickler for editing and pedalling a polished facade on my own blog, I have strangely never found her propensity to not bother with capital letter, or leave in typos as a negative, Its the way she writes her blogs, and I've never thought to question that. Pretty big for a literature student and it strikes me as something inherent within the blogging format. It is a very liberating way to write, without fear of judgement. At least not judgement that I particularly care about.

That sounds like I don't value my followers, and that isn't the case. It is the case that those who would judge my blog don't know me for the most part, and those who do as close enough friends that if I'm being a douche they'll tell me. Their judgement I do not fear or agonise over. That is a huge contrast to the fear I feel over my thesis and my creative writing.

Twice this week, however, I have come across an issue and the natural response has been 'I think I need to write a blog about this'. that sounds very hipster and conceited, but I am inherently a writer. when something happens that is provocative, hurtful, exciting or momentous I want to write about it.

So, the conclusion is pretty much that I remember why I started this in the first place and I am officially back to the blogosphere.

*I also have a blog on the glorious art of swearing planned soon, but for now you'll just have to guess what the F stands for. Or read the last line of the quotation at the top of the page for a clue.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Marla's Back!

A few of you may know that I'm a big Marla Mason fan and I'm very pleased to say that the next in this series of novels by T. A. Pratt featuring the badass sorcerer is going ahead. I came across the first Marla Mason novel Blood Engines, through a legitimate free copy on SCRIBD sponsored by the publisher, and haven't been able to get enough since. The artwork for the covers is awesome and I really love the way Pratt develops his characters. Since having the series dropped by Random House after the Spell Games cliffhanger, Pratt continued the series through reader donations and prize incentives. The next in the series is Grim Tides and will be the third novel Pratt has funded this way. If you're interested you can even try before you buy with a bunch of free stories, including the Grim Tides prequel 'Shark's Teeth'.This series is well worth a read, especially if you like your fantasy urban, and your witches to kick ass. I will be donating this time again (as soon as I get paid) and you can do that here. Pratt gives away prizes of signed books and other delights as well, and you can see my stash from Broken Mirrors here.

For more sartorial witt from the wonderfully sarcastic Marla, check out her twitter and keep an eye on http://www.timpratt.org/ for more upates.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

I did it!

So I handed my first chapter in for review to the Progress Panel at Uni. I didn't really think about it at the time, but it's a pretty big achievement after a year that's felt like an up-hill hike pretty much from the beginning.

I doesn't matter who you speak to about the PhD process, whatever stage they are at is the hardest. Most of my fellow students are in their second or final year, so I've have had a fair bit of 'but you're only in your first year, you've got it easy' kind of comments. The truth is, this is a tough thing we've all decided to do. We often have contradictory guidance, and sometimes we don't have any.

Sometimes though we get that break through: we made a deadline, we get results, we have that 'eureka' moment when it all falls into place or we find that someone else has written something which supports what we do. Those break throughs, no matter how little, are why we do it and what makes it worth it.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Are You Campaigning?

Rachael Harrie over at Rach Writes is running her Platform Building Writer's Campaign, starting this month. I took part in the prvious incarnations of this (as the Crusdade) and I'm considering joining again this time round.

Getting round the 200-odd blogs that were participating last time was just too much for me, and I did neglect my fellow Crusader in my group as well. I'm wondering if it's a bit cheeky of me to sign up to this while I'm on a schedule hiatus from the blog, and working on the chapter. I'm also on an officicial holiday, the kind where I get to fly away from the UK, for two weeks in September and will be cutting it fine for participation in the all important challenges that month.

All of that said, I read more blogs and wrote more, blog-wise and novel-wise, while taking part in the Campign and it should be a good warm up for NaNoWriMo* in November. A lot of you out there got to the blog through the first two Campiagns and mny of the blog I follow were discovered the same way. So will you be Campaigning this autumn? How did you choose your Campainger group, and how do you plan on staying in touch with everyone? Do you think that this is an unashamed scramble for for followers(on my part, not yours)**?

*Disclaimer: still not 100% decied that I'm taking part in that either. You can though. Sign up for NaNoWriMo here and the Campaign here.
** It isn't that. Well, it mostly isn't anyway. 

Thursday, 18 August 2011


The post title has nothing to do with me going anywhere, but the fact that I've lost a few followers recently. It's not too much of a surprise considering the distinct lack of updating on my part, but it's always a shame to see people go.

I've been very absent from the blogosphere, both in terms of updates and comments, and I'm feeling a bit guilty about it. What is the point in the blog, after all, if I'm not writing anything? Well, according to the -currently-on-hold blogging schedule, Wednesday is an anything goes day, so here goes...

I'm sitting in the student union just now waiting on my supervisor to continue ripping apart reviewing my current chapter together. It's my theory overview chapter, and I'm itching to shelf it and move on to the bit where I actually get to analyse some literature, and not agonise over the intricacies of some inconsistent old man's thoughts on myth. I'm not gonna get to until the end of the month, when I have to hand the chapter in to the review panel. I'll get to move on for a bit until the progress review panel of other Professors from the school where I'll no doubt get more (contradictory) suggestions and have to revise the damn thing again.

I do make it sound like this is my first time receiving feedback on my own writing. Its really not, and I'm under no illusions about the quality and clarity of my writing, but I really do feel like this is lasting forever. I can't believe that it's taken me a whole year to write less than 10,000 words. How on earth am I supposed to get 100,000 in the next two?

Another blog post in which I bemoan something. Bound to get the followers flocking back, huh? Self-pity really isn't attractive.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Riots, Social Networks and the Media Response

 Before I start I would like to point out that I in no way support the actions of those looters and arsonists in London, and the growing list of towns and cities in England. This may have started as a responce to the circumstances surrounding the police shooting of Mark Duggan, however I believe that looters with rooms full of shoe boxes have little to do with the legitimate protest march to Tottenham Police Station to publicise objections to the IPCC conduct in the enquiry into the shooting.
In the wake of plummeting stock markets, austerity cuts, an  wealth gap, record high inflation rates, record low insurance rates and then perhaps the reaction from those facing the worst of this recession is not as incomprehensible as at first glance. The Guardian.

"Combine understandable suspicion of and resentment towards the police based on experience and memory with high poverty and large unemployment and the reasons why people are taking to the streets become clear." Nina Powers, 

Growing materialism and the widening gap between the richest and the poorest of this country has, I believe, as much to do with the reaction of those predominantly young people in London and elsewhere. In our materialist society those who 'have not' seized on the opportunity to level the playing field. Like the riots that escalated from the student protests last year, any legitimate issue with the government or society has been lost.  

Critical focus from the media and the police on the use of social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, and through Blackberry Messenger to coordinate the rioting strikes me as hypocritical in light of the very different reaction to Egypt's rioting and the subsequent banning of Twitter by the government there. Nonetheless this change of opinion from UK news reporters is something we have come to expect.

In saying this publicly and openly, perhaps even playing 'citizen journalist', I run the risk of being called an apologist. I am saddened by bother the damage and violence from the rioters, who are no longer protesters and haven't been for some time now. I am just as saddened by the calls I hear from people here, far away from the damage and devastation in London, for stronger police tactics, water cannons, rubber bullets or bringing in the Army against children aged 14-17.

"The time to 'hug a hoodie' is over ... it's time to get tough." BBC News, 14.19, 09/08/11

This should be a wake-up call, but I fear it will be dismissed as mindless mob violence and not the product of far reaching social issues. Criminals should be brought to justice, and another generation of the disadvantaged poorer class will be sentenced to institutionalised criminality while those people truly hurt in these riots, the shop owners and communities, will not receive that justice.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Quick Post: Free Books Competition

Just a super quick post to say that I'm entering Lisa M Potts' 1st Blogoversary Baker's Dozen Giveaway and that you still have  few days to enter too. She's giving away a fantastic selection of books, so get your entry in before 3rd August (that's Wednesday) for a chance to win.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011



Watching the TV Book Club the other day (yes I will pretty much watch anything with 'book' in the title) I saw an interview with 'the Grandmother of Chick Lit' Jackie Collins. Aside from that absurd title for the bestselling author, one of the things which bugged me came from Ms. Collins herself. She trotted out that old 'write what you know' cliche. This is one of my pet peaves when authors are talking about their work; it is one of those empty phrases that does little more than fill time while they can think of a better answer. Yes, I get that it doesn't mean 'only write that which you have direct experience of' and more 'draw on your life experience to enhance the quality of your writing'. I would, however, prefer to hear that stated plainly with perhaps some advice on how that particular author makes their life experience work for them in their writing. Do they draw on people they know to create characters? Do they extensivley 'people watch' to see varieties of expression and movement? Do they research extensivley, plan meticulosly, sit down and write from the top of their heads? Do their characters come to them fully formed, or do they build them up during the writing process?
Of course there's no way that all that information will fit into the time it takes to churn out that stock phrase, but that is because to do more than spit out cliches leads to thinking about and engaging with the writing process.
That's my two cents (or pence I suppose, but the invasion of Americaisms is another post for different day). What I really started this post for, before Jackie Collins distracted me, was that I'm thinking, perhaps, maybe of taking part in NaNoWriMo this year. GULP.
I won't be able to make a decision on this properly until after my End of Year Review. If that goes badly (please God don't let it go badly) then I'll have to spend the time trying to fix that. Hovever, I have put writing The Novel off until I get on better with the thesis and if that's going well and I get to take the extra class I want top take for the new semester, then I should be able to devote some time to getting the creative stuff up and running.
So, over to you. Have you devoted the penultimate month of the year to NaNoWriMo before? Was it worth it? Were you more or less motivated? And did you reach the magic 50,000?

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Quick Post: Look at my Books.

Yes, I said books. I had my anual trip to the used bookshop on campus today. I try to keep visits to a minimum for good reason, but I'm very excited by my loot this time around. If anyone is ever in Old Aberdeen (Scotland) its on Spital just around the corner from Orchard Lane. It's called, rather imaginativley, Old Aberdeen Bookshop. Seriously worth a look.

Thursday, 7 July 2011


I'm going to do something rarely, if ever, do on the blog; I'm going to have a rant.


Now that you're duly warned, I'll begin.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The person you are calling is unable to take you call...

Hi, you've reached Kar'a blog; she's not around at the moment thanks to Graduation (work) and thesis (PhD). She is still trawling the blogoshpere reading about your exciting lives, but won't be posting regularily until August when she hopes to get back to the blogging schedule there ==>

For now, enjoy the new blog template and check out older posts or fellow bloggers JudetheDreamer and Rachel Marsh.
Please feel free to leave a message after the tone. *BEEEEEEP*

Monday, 9 May 2011

Svengali, or the Art of Creating Tension

I went to see Derren Brown's new stage show Svengali on Saturday in its closing night at the Edinburgh Playhouse. Even without Derren's very polite request to not reveal the details of the show to anyone I would never reveal the end of a show or story, particularily online (if you don't believe me ask my Mum if I've told her how Harry Potter ends yet). That's not about to change, so if you're here looking for spoilers then try someone else. What I am going to discuss is the similarities between that art of the performer and that of the writer, and a few observations that I made on creating nd maintaining tension in an unruly audience.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Character Takeover

I'm Mel and Kar asked if I'd be interested in doing a guest post on her blog. She's super stressed just now, so I don't mind helping out. Apparently I've to tell you a bit about myself then, "you know, whatever you want to write about is fine". Althought that was after I vetoed the idea of an interview. Some crazy woman wanted to know if I pee with the door open when I'm in the house on my own. Seriously.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Thesis? What thesis, I've got a wedding

Another video that I got from someone posting it on facebook, but thats gone well in the past and this give me an excuse to bring up the topic of the Royal Wedding on the 29th April. The only chances of you not knowing what I'm talking about would be if you've been living in a cave since November.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Writing about writing

I'm going to write about something that I don't normally discuss on the blog, or with anyone really: my creative writing. I haven't completed a project on my own, written a story from start to finish since I was 12 years old (it was called 'Jenna's Homework', my Mum thought it was quite good). I've started loads and I've abandoned them all so far. I have notebooks filled with ideas which have amounted to no more than that.

Monday, 18 April 2011

♪ ♫ ♪"I'm so dizzy, my head is spinning"♪ ♫

This is what my house looks like...well except
that you can still see the floor.
Hi everybody! Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post, I got some good advice and lots of support about the 'ol blog. I'm going to reform my blogging schedule and post on Mondays and Wednesdays at least. Mondays will be for any regular features like Confessoins of a Justified Bibliophile or the Writers Platform Building Crusade and Wednesdays will be a 'whatever's on my mind' kind of day.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

You there, yes you...you look fab today.

Flattery will get you everywhere, especially when you have to apologise. I've not blogged in a while and am feeling a little guilty, so sorry to all my fellow Crusaders. I have been reading your blogs, I promise and I appreciate all the comments I've been getting even though I haven't posted in a while.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Go Dundee!

This blog is getting less and less anonymous and I blame the Crusdade, but I'm so proud of my City today I'm outing myself as a honorary Dundonian.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


I cannot imagine anything more joyous than this sound. A friend posted it on facebook and I just had to share it.

Very Merry Unbirthday to Me

I was going to go with a completley different post, but a friend (Julie) wished me a very merry unbirthday this morning and it reminded me about a post I made around this time last year, so I'm going with the second annual unbirthday post instead.

Crusader Biz(ness) first though. I really enjoyed the guesses from everyone, and I'm sorry I didn't get around everyones' Challenge post, but I promise to be round to your blogs soon. I'm not really a closet philatelist, or a philatelist of any kind. I did inherit a relative's stamp collection once, but I have no idea what happened to it and I do keep the used stamps that come my way as my work collects them for charity (still not sure how they get money from used stamps, but I send them anyway). The guesses were brilliant and I apparently wrote loads of things that could be mistaken for a lie. So for the reccord here's what they all were:

  • I was bullied in first year for being flat chested (secret) 
  • I always make sure I've got extra chocolate spread on the knife so that I can lick it off the blade (interesting quirk)
  • I'm not good with concise and have the habbit of going on a bit (annoying habit)
  • I'm very determined and its a character trait I get from my family (best character trait)
  • When I was little I loved dressing up and my Grandma's fur coat was the best (favourite thing in the whole world) 
Other guesses for the lie were that I don't bloviate during academic debates, that I don't like nutella(!) or lick it of the knife, that I didn't study philosophy and that I don't live in a pond. Apart from the pond bit, those are all true. I was surprised that no-one thought that the fur coat bit was a lie, ansd that the 'closet philatelist' wasn't more obvious. I also obviously need to work on my metaphors, since I had no intention of implying that me and my family live in a pond...
Special mention needs to go to Jolene, who commented to say that the 'toast' bit of my breakfast really is optional. She got it absolutley spot on and qwhile I do like the excess nutella off the knife if I have it with toast, more often than not I just eat it from the jar with a spoon. (Incedently I do the same with peanut butter, but never at the same time).  

My Birthday was on Sunday and I had a lovely day out with the family. I got tonnes of DVD box sets and some beautiful notebooks for my PhD (I chose a set of Paperblanks notebooks to use for it). Its my Mum's birthday a week after mine so I also get to do it again this comming weekend. I also get to have two birthdays in a way since I usually spend the weekend near my Birthday at home, and celebrate with friends through the week. Tonight is my 'Birthday with friends night' so I' better run and go get ready.

All thats left is for me to wish you a Very Merry Unbirthday!

(I have no idea what the little dancing banana man is doing in this post, but I had hiom saved long with the post title, so there must have been some reason)

Friday, 25 February 2011

A blog post all about me (Crusader Challenge)

So, I've to tell you all about me in 300 words or less. In case you haven't noticed yet I'm not so good with concise so this really will be a challenge. I do have the habit of going on a bit, its one of the things that people find most annoying bout me. When I get onto a topic I feel passionately bout, one way or another, it’s hard to get me to stop and I do tend to bloviate a bit when it comes to academic-style debate. I think its something to do with having studied philosophy. Maybe.

One of my favourite things in the world when I was little was dressing up and my Grandma's fur coat was the best. Imagine how I felt when I found out that it was real rabbit.

I was bullied in high school, like most kids are but my story has a happy ending (kind of). I was bullied in first year for being flat chested; I was twelve. By the time I was thirteen I was on my way to a D-cup. Hmm, perhaps not the best secret to tell you, should I have gone for 'I’m a closet philatelist' instead?

I love toast and nutella for breakfast, and I always make sure I've got extra chocolate spread on the knife so that I can lick it off the blade.

I'm very determined and its a character trait I get from my family. We are fuliguline is many ways, belonging to quite a big flock but not your average birds of a feather: a bit quirky and not found in your usual pond.

Of all these things about me, one of them isn't quite true. Can you guess which one?

P.S. I don't share much about myslef on the blog, mainly because I like to keep sections of my life seperate and blogging is where I am the 'writer' me, rather than the girlfriend, daughter, friend, colleague, sister or student me. So, this was a bit diffucult and really challenged my writing skills. A huge big THANK YOU to Rach for hosting this awesome challenge. Keep crusading!

P. P. S. The moral of the story is not that you need big boobs to be happy, but that bullies are usually clueless individuals and you should never take what they say on board. And check what that vintage fur coat is really made of first, it might freak you out. And comparing your family to a flock of sea ducks is hard.

Monday, 14 February 2011


This is a bit of a blogoversary-valentines-spread the love kind of post. Jules from Trying to Get Over the Rainbow created this little love heart to say 'thank you' to her followers, without requiring any link backs to her blog. Of course, lots of people have linked back to her anyway but I thought this captured the spirit of both Valentines Day and the whole blogging community. I've been blogging for over a year now, and I still can't really believe that anyone is actually reading my blog and thinks what I have to say about the whole life-and-writing thing is interesting, but you're out there. So this is my big thank you to all of you who read and comment on my blog.

Also, check out the fabulous Crusade badge up there to the left, and the competition section to the right. I was complimented on the 'new look' of the blog today and it is looking rather snazzy, if I do say so myself.

And just to confirm everything I've been saying about blogging since the first Crusade, Heathfield Primary School were on the news this morning discussing their innovative use of blogging to get their pupils engaged in writing. Not only has this gotten the previously uninterested boys in the school writing 5,000+ words on a regular basis, higher than average literacy score have gone up from 7% to 63%. I also met up with a friend who is a primary school teacher and he was in the process of making a blog for his class (hi Mark), so it looks like its catching on north of the border as well.

Happy Blogging everyone!

Kar x

Friday, 11 February 2011

Confessions of a Justified Bibliofile (1)

Welcome to the first of my Confessions of a Justified Bibliophile blog features, where I discuss the authors and books which have made the biggest impact in my life and on my writing. Each will be accompnied by a 'confession' related to the author or genre of the month.

Since this is my first Confessions... post and my Blogoversary, I'm holding a little competition to win the book I'm discussing. Just fill in the form at the bottom of the post. The winner will be selcted at random on 11th March 2011. I'm using The Book Depository, so check that they ship to your country here. So what could you win?

Title: The Red Tent
Author: Anita Diamant
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Historical Fiction
Synopsis: You will have heard of Joseph, the youngest son of Jacob and the oldest son of his favourite wife Rachel, but do you remember his sister from the Bible? Dinah's story barely takes up any room in the book of Genesis and it is told from the male persepective. This novel expands Dinah's story and attempts to interact with the account in Genesis to answer some of the questions many readers face; how could the son's of Jacob slaughter an entire city? why would a Prince look to marry a woman he had raped? what happened to Dinah?

Confession #1: I love reimaginings of existing stories. Whether it's Little Red Riding Hood comic book style, a novel based on a play by Shakespeare or a funky new spin on the vampire, re-tellings have always captured my imagination. So much so that my PhD is on the rewriting of myth in contemporary literature because the best thing about doing English Lit as a subject is that I get to work with literature I love, rather than literture someone else thinks is important.

This novel was recomended to me by a friend who thought that every woman should read this book. Not only is the writing excellent, the research into the history of the red tent shows and the concept of reading between the lines of patriarchial society really griped me. In some places the word midrash is used to describe this novel, something which Diamant disagrees with. Midrash is a particular way of interpreting a biblical story which goes beyond the surface level of the text and fills in gaps in the narrative. Its also sacred, which is where Diamant disagrees, quite rightly giving the full title as The Red Tent: A Novel.

Dinah is a character who haunts the reader long after the book has been closed. She is witty and bold and flawed and hurt. She somehow manages not to come accross as bitter, but melancholy. I am not a mother, but I would like to be some day and The Red Tent along with Dear Nobody by Berlie Doherty are novels which inspire me to be a good mum (hopefully) and a good writer.

You can check out Anita Diamant's blog here and her thoughts on midrash and The Red Tent here.

To enter fill in this form. All informtion supplied will be used for the puropse of the competition only and will be deleted once a winner has been selected and contacted. If you supply a shipping address which is not on The Book Depository list for shipping, your entry will be deleted, so please check first. Good luck!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Holy Potatoes, Batman! (or Crusade Mark II)

Ok, so I'm running out of quirky titles for the blog posts, but in my defence I need to get this post up so that I can sign up for the Second Writers Platform Building Crusade with Rach over at Rach Writes... and get on with my amazing, fantabulous Blogoversary COMPETITION! Besides,
Crusdade-->Holy-->Batman...not too much of a leap, is it?

I was late to the party for the first Crusade and I missed the first challenge, but I'm definitley hopping on board from the start for Rach's second crusde, and you should too. Its a great wy to meet new bloggers and this time round Rach is sorting us all into groups so that it's  bit easier to keep on top of the Crusading and, more importantly, we get intouch with other writers with a similar style or genre.

I can unequivocally say that my writing has improved in volume and regularity since joing the first Crusdae and being introduced to some wonderful fellow bloggers who write engaging posts and aske me questions about my writing, either directly or indirectly, which have really motivted me.

So sign up here and come Crusading!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Highwayman

A while ago Miles over at An Author's Quest posted about well written music being like good writing. He used the example of Taylor Swift and I had a big comment ('cos when are my comments ever little?) typed up about how I feel the same about Dido's album 'No Angel', but my internet being its usual temperamental self decided to flake out, and so the comment was lost in the void between typing and hitting 'comment'. What's got me on to the topic again is an acoustic gig at a bar in town I've just come home from. My friend Shoshana was playing, hence my being there, and she did a version of 'The Highwayman' by Alfred Noyes which was set to music my Lorenne McKennit.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

A Word on Libraries

A speech made by Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials, on the closing of public libraries due to public sector cuts being forced on local authorities has been pinging about the internet since its publication on False Economy on Tuesday. Pullman is the perfect spokesperson for many literary-related causes, an none more so than this one. He is articulate and I reccomend having a read through his relativly lenglthy speech as he touched on many things whoch apply to our funding of community programmes in general, not just the arts.  He also touches on the subject of the unregulated free market which has gotten the world into this mess from the Chicago School of Economics and for further information on this you could do worse that Naomi Klein's lecture The Schock Doctrine which I've pasted below. (You can also go here to dowload the mp3).

Monday, 24 January 2011

Interim post

Photo from Unhindered by Talent's flickr
 I have a whole host of exciting discussion posts, a couple of reviews and a competition brewing but no time to write them all out at the moment.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Food for thought...

For those of you who thought that the deep fried mars bar was a myth, this is a picture of the sign inside the chip shop I got my dinner from tonight in Stonehaven.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

New Writing, New Reading, New Year

My first post of 2011heralds some new writing, mostly in the form of New Writing Dundee submissions.