How to treat others…

I read this quote on Facebook: Being a good neighbour is treating someone like a brother or a sister. At first reading it sounds great. I congratulated the young man on his wisdom and thought he’d come up with a very nice variation on the original saying: Treat others as you would like others to treat you. Then I began to think on it further. I’m sure that young man is a wonderful brother: thoughtful, caring, compassionate, generous and kind. However, not all siblings are like that; especially when they are young. Some sisters terrify their younger sibling by telling them that now they’ve accidentally swallowed a watermelon pip, they’re going to get a watermelon vine growing out of their ears. (I anxiously checked my ears for a week before my mother found out and told me it wasn’t true.) Some bigger sisters leave their little sister out of their games because she’s “too little to play with them”. I’ve seen siblings fighting over toys. Telling tales on each other. Blaming the innocent party for something they have done. Eating the sibling’s lollies/cake/peanuts when the sibling isn’t looking. I even know of adult siblings who still don’t speak to each other. Brothers and sisters can do terrible things to each other. (I’ve only mentioned the mild, less-violent things.) Now, don’t get me wrong; brothers and sisters can also be wonderful. I well remember the day my sisters sneaked up to my room, after I’d had ‘the strap’ from dad, and smuggled me in some home-made chocolate. (Thanks, girls!) I can remember one of my sisters coming to my defence against a school bully: She’s my little sister, she said. The only one who gets to bully her is me. Wasn’t that sweet? No, on second thoughts I think the original saying is the better one. After all, if there is one thing we can count on it’s people’s ability to think of themselves. It’s not hard to ask: Would I like to be treated like this?  What a shame that question isn’t asked more often; eg: If I was in that plane, would I like to be shot down? Or, If I was a refugee would I like me and my children to be locked away in a prison of tents on a small, isolated island for years? Or, If I was a woman would I like to have my genitals mutilated and to be treated like a cash cow? It’s not that hard, people. Treat others in the manner you would want to be treated. (Of course, if you’re a delightful brother or sister, you can do it like...

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Those first books…

I wonder if the books we get read to us when we’re very young, and which we first read when we’re able to do it for ourselves, set the “preferred genre” button in our brains. I’ve always loved fairy stories, myths and legends and the more dragons, the better. However, as an adult, I’ve met people who think that fantasy and sci-fi books are a waste of time. They prefer romances, or biographies, or self-help books, or “ordinary” stories. I suppose wondering why we have such different tastes is similar to wondering why some people love apples, some love bananas and others avoid fruit like I avoid cauliflower. But, I do think that perhaps what we read, and enjoy, when we’re a very young age must have some bearing. One of the earliest memories I have of a book is a picture book. I can’t remember the title, but I do remember that it was based on a German folk tale. It involved three animals – a donkey, a cat and a rooster – that got lost in a forest at night. They were scared witless but they stuck together and bumbled their way through the woods. When they saw a cottage with a light in the window they peeked inside. The cat stood on the donkey and the rooster stood on the cat. The person inside saw a three-headed monster peering in at them and they were as frightened as the animals. It was a great story with beautiful, vivid illustrations. I wish I could remember what it was. When I was in primary/grade school I devoured every book in the school library. I read the usual suspects – Enid Blyton was one of the main contenders – but I also loved Grimm’s fairy tales and folk tales from foreign lands, like Persia and India. Then I was given “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and I was in love. Goodbye “Secret Seven” and hello Narnia! We were poor when I was little, although I didn’t realise it at the time, and books were a wonderful way to escape into a land of colour, excitement, adventure and mystery. And, one of the things that drew me to the more fantastical and magical stories was that the children in those books seemed more real. (Ironic, hey?) They weren’t always perfect, they made mistakes and got grumpy and threw a tantrum now and then, but they were also brave and determined and somehow won the day, against all manner of weird beasts and wicked grown-ups. They made the characters in the ordinary books seem a little insipid. I also read “Pollyana” and I knew that no one is that nice, all the time.  Try using a Pollyana attitude on the White Witch in Narnia and see where it gets you! I like what Neil Gaiman wrote. “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”  Well said, good sir! What did you read when you were just a little tacker? And, do you think it has directed your taste buds in any...

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I learned some ‘techno’, sort of.

I’ve been asked what I learned at the giggle of writers last week so here goes. We writers must use social media to promote our work and to build our ‘brand’. (Not sure what my brand actually is but I’m hoping it’s pink and fabulous.) To get in the thick of it we’re encouraged to join various social media networks. I can tick off Facebook, although I’m having a great deal of trouble building up a fan base for my author’s page: W. A. Noble. (If you haven’t “Liked” it yet, please feel free to do so.) I’m already on Goodreads. I joined a year or two ago, as someone who likes to read. Imagine my amazement when I discovered my book is on Goodreads and even has some nice reviews! (Thanks, chaps.) I was encouraged to ‘claim my author page’. “It’s easy,” they said. “Just Google Goodreads, type in your author name, scroll down to the bottom of the page and answer the question, Is this you?, with a yes.” So, I found a page for my book quite easily. I’m on a roll, I thought. Then I searched for my author’s name and was told, “This person does not exist.” Whaaaaat? I tried scrolling down my book’s page and my member’s page but there was no question to answer. I exist but I don’t exist. Gosh, I’m good at this stuff. We were then given tips about how to write a blog. It seems I’m doing a lot of things wrong. 1) Don’t be negative or complain. Damn, that’s pretty much my modus operandi. 2) Don’t blog about writing. And to think, I was just trying to be helpful . 3) Don’t blog about social issues. But, the issues I blog about are important to me. It’s how my mind works. I care about the world. What is more, my stories include stuff about social issues (in a non-threatening manner). 4) Do book reviews. Alright! I’ve actually done a couple of those. 5) Do movie reviews. The only problem with that is I so rarely go to the cinema. But, I did talk about the movie, The Book Thief… or was that on Facebook? I know I made a brief mention of Ishtar once. 6) Take questions from your readers. I’m happy to do that so ask away. 7) Give book updates. I would if I had something to say. 8) Talk about the theme of your life. Not sure what that is. Any suggestions? Looks like I’ve either got to do a huge overhaul of the blog, or not bother. At this stage I’m heavily leaning towards, not bother, but if you have any comments or suggestions to make I’d appreciate it. There was stuff about Twitter, Pinterest and some other thing but I made a mental note right then and there not to go there. There were some websites listed that should prove helpful so I’ll list them here for your benefit, even though I’m not supposed to give writing tips. www.smallbluedog.com/how-to-market-a-book; www.thecreativepenn.com; www.smashwords.com; www.createspace.com The biggest thing I learned is that when the younger generation get tap tapping on their computers and use the phrase, “It’s easy”, I know I’m entering a strange and foreign...

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Ah the good old days

I didn’t do a blog last week so I thought I’d better not miss another one. But…the thing is… I’m off to a giggle of writers in about half an hour so I haven’t given myself much time to do this. Oh well. I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I do a hasty scrawl. My fellow writers and I are having a PD day. Someone is going to tell us all about using social media, the internet, e-books and all that jazz. I sure hope they’re going to demonstrate the moves on a big screen or it’ll all be gobbledygook to me.  (Which is the reason I’m keen to go.) I know I should be more up with it all. After all, I have a blog. I’m on Facebook. I also have an “author’s page” on FB. I’ve had an e-book published (still available on Amazon, Kobo and Apple i-Tunes – please feel free to buy a copy). You’d think I’d be up with all that techno stuff. The answer is a resounding NO. The Old Boy is my techno-advisor and resident computer geek, and I usually rely on him to keep everything functioning and to fix all my mistakes. But, I know I need to be more proactive about this stuff. I’m still not really marketting my book very well. I’m not using Twitter. It takes me a whole week to come up with the drivel I usually write in this blog. I figure, how the hell would I think up stuff to tweet? I’ve noticed other writers tweet news about book launches and conferences attended and awards won but I don’t have any of that stuff to tweet about so all that’s left is Rex the Wonder Dog and my so-called health. Not that rivetting, really. Anyhoo, I’m going to hear from some experts today and then I’ll drag my overloaded head home and try to unpack it all. It’s a darn shame that we have to do all this non-writing stuff these days. The old artist-in-the-attic-scratching-words-of-wisdom-in-a-notebook-then-posting-it-off-to-an-eager-publisher-who-prints-distributes-and-markets-for-you days are over. I should have been born about 100 years ago. Typical me. I’m late for just about everything! But – not for the giggle of writers I’m going to. For once, I’m actually ready, early. (Little...

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