Wordy Wednesday with Rebecca Ann Smith

Hello and welcome once again to Wordy Wednesday - today with Becky Smith, her first novel, Baby X, has just been published by small press Mother’s Milk Books. It’s a psychological thriller about motherhood, technology and medical ethics.

“Alex Mansfield, the doctor leading a groundbreaking project to grow a human foetus in an artificial uterus, has gone on the run and taken the newborn baby with her. While the child’s parents wait anxiously for news, and the world’s media clamour for answers, Alex’s colleagues are shocked by her actions. Has Alex stolen the baby, or is there another motive behind her disappearance?
Baby X weaves science and medical ethics into an intimate thriller; asking questions without offering easy answers.”
Ooh sounds most intriguing, and the sort of story I really like to read. So let's find out more about our author of the day.

Do you have another job or are you a full time author? If you do something else (international spy?) what is it and do you like it?
I’d love to say I was an international spy, but I’m actually an Associate Director of an arts and education charity based in Lewes, East Sussex. I do enjoy it – we do a lot of varied and interesting projects – but I do wish I had more time to write.
At the moment – between work, family and work to promote Baby X all my time is committed. So I’m getting up very early in the morning to write my next book.

When did you start writing?
I started writing stories and poems when I was tiny and wrote all throughout my teens. I lost confidence with it in my twenties – I think doing a degree and then a Master’s in English Literature didn’t help… And then I started again in my thirties when I finally admitted how much I missed making things up.

What 3 things are guaranteed to make you smile?
I listen to a lot of podcasts, some serious science ones but also quite a lot of comedy. Current faves for a guaranteed giggle include Adam Buxton and Answer Me This.
The look on my kids’ faces when they do something they think is hilarious (like a silent-but-deadly fart).
If all else fails, Emily Gilmore makes me smile.

Do you have any pets?
No pets I’m afraid. One day I’d like to own a bearded dragon which would sit on my shoulder as I write.

Who is your favourite author?
The greatest influence on Baby X was Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. I wanted to combine serious ideas about technology, society, and feminism with a good story full of suspense and tension, the way Atwood did in that book – although I know I’ve got a long way to go before I could claim to write as well as her.

Which book(s) are you reading at the moment?
I’m beta reading a book by a friend of mine, Neil McIntosh. It’s a thriller about memory and it’s creepy as hell – I’m not sure what the final title will be but he’s a name to watch out for.
I recently read Laura Lipman’s Wilde Lake and absolutely loved it. And My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal made me cry.

Where do you do most of your writing?
I write at my desk which is in our living room, so is only ever quiet either very early in the morning, or when everyone else is at work and school.
I’m quite good at filtering out distractions, and have been known to wear earplugs to get some writing done whilst blocking the sound of Saturday morning cartoons.

Tell us about the character that you've written that you like the most - no spoilers!
My favourite character in the book is the doctor, Alex. She’s clever, hard-working and committed, but also spiky and difficult, and there are times we might have reason not to trust her version of events. She’s likeable, but not too likeable, if you know what I mean.

What is your favourite biscuit?
And now onto serious matters! I must admit there aren’t a lot of biscuits I *don’t* like. We brought a box of all butter Breton biscuits back from our holiday in France this year and I could eat those by the fistful.

Tea or Coffee?
Both please!

In the film of your life who would play you?
Probably Susan Sarandon (although she’s quite a bit older than me, so I’m not sure how that would work). I like how tough and no nonsense she is. Plus, great hair.
If a time machine was on offer, Katherine Hepburn.

If you could genetically cross an animal and a vegetable, what would you pick and why? I like the idea of a sweet potato panda, a soft of soft orange bear....
The sweet potato panda sounds very cute. Or a bright orange mango kitten.

Baby X is available from Amazon or direct from my publisher Mother’s Milk Books http://www.mothersmilkbooks.com/
Becky has a website and blog at www.rebeccaannsmith.co.uk and you can find her on Facebook
On Twitter as @beckysmithhurst
Becky is always up for chatting with other writers on Twitter – it’s one of her favourite procrastination techniques.


Embedding Periscope Videos in a blog

So it seems you can embed periscope videos in a blog post which is very good news.

First I visited this periscope page that told me it was possible, I was sent from there to here, a Twitter page that creates an embed code to be used on webpages. I found the Periscope I wanted to share, popped it into the embed field, copied the created code and

So there you are - you have a periscope you need to share on a blog? You can! Hopefully I'll be using it more in future for the fun of live unboxing videos! (what have I become!?)

Edited to add - this seems to work in Chrome but not in IE or Firefox. Can you comment to let me know if you see the embedded video or just a link, and also let me know which browser you are using. Thanks!


The secret to a long and happy marriage

I am a marriage expert.

Haha obviously I'm not, I do not have a degree in marriage, and I've only had one marriage, so that makes me far from an expert. I expect Henry VIII was much more of an expert than I am. However the other day A Novice Mum asked me about the secret to being married for a long time.

You'll remember that Mr TM proposed in a casual but cute way, and that I had a casual but cute wedding reception. And all of that was over 24 years ago. We have actually been a couple now for over 30 years. That's just ridiculous, I could have done 2 murders for that!

Which leads me nicely to the secret.

The secret to a long marriage (the happy bit we shall discuss separately in a minute) is "don't kill each other". No really, that's it. There will be times in a marriage that you disagree about something, it may be a small thing or a big thing.

Maybe you like to leave the washing up on the draining board to dry naturally and your significant other (SO) likes to dry everything with a tea towel and stack it away in the cupboards, or you like back bacon and your SO likes streaky. These small issues need compromise.
Compromise should be taught in school, in the 'me me me' culture we have nowadays, where young people talk about 'doing what makes you happy' and 'making time for you',  compromise can be so easily forgotten. It's unlikely (though possible) that you find a partner on which you totally agree 100%. Even if you think that now, you may find as time goes on, issues you had never thought of appear over the horizon and you disagree. Compromising can stop you killing each other. Buy both types of bacon, take it in turns to be in charge of the washing up...

Some issues though are either so huge or so diametric that there can not be a compromise in which you both win, only a decision in which one of you does.

With some things, there can be a decision to both do your own thing, or keep your own thoughts, for example where you have conflicting religions or political views. Or as in our case where I attend festivals and Mr TM stays at home in the land of warm rooms, beds and running water. And that separate time can be a marriage saver too, if you look at many marriage guides there are lots of tips and ideas on things to do together and of course that's important, but don't be afraid to do things apart too. Mr TM likes to practise playing the piano, I like to blog.

But some decisions are just a dichotomy, what about getting a dog? or having children? I hope that every couple discusses big issues before they marry. But maybe you forgot to mention you hate dogs while he assumed you'd get an Afghan hound. Here is an impasse, what to do? You cannot get half a dog. Maybe you could still compromise a bit, get a smaller dog, arrange for a cleaner, get a dog walker..but if not you need to be able to talk...without killing each other, and one of you needs to be brave enough to not get what you want. (if you didn't talk about having children before marriage...well that's a big conversation to have, but you still need to have it, and listen to each other's reasons for their thoughts too)

*an aside
When we married Mr TM made it clear he didn't want children. I did, but after some years of us being together I realised that I would rather be with him, without children, than without him but with children. Mr TM is 20 years my senior. We married. I mentioned getting a dog, Mr TM declared dogs too much of a tie and a responsibility. I pointed out that I had agreed to no children, could I not have a dog to mother instead? And so he relented, 3 years after getting a puppy he suggested we have a baby, maybe he saw how I was with the dog, maybe he saw other parents, who knows, but he changed his mind, once I was pregnant we bought a second dog to amuse the first so that he should not be annoyed by the baby. Now 17 years on those dogs are gone, but DD and I missed them, Mr TM enjoyed the clean house for a while...before agreeing we needed more mud and hair on the carpet....

Never fall into the trap of "but if you loved me you would ..." because your SO will surely just think "but if you loved ME you wouldn't..."

So there is the secret. The secret is in 3 parts.
  1. Talk
  2. Compromise
  3. Be prepared to not always get what you want
And the happy bit? Well I assume that the day you got married you were happy? Now you are together all the time (apart from the time you are not) you are talking, sharing, not bottling stuff up, compromising...what's not to be happy about!

I wonder if you read this far and thought "But my SO doesn't help around the house" or "but my SO is messy" or a million other annoying things your SO might do. If so, ask yourself, have you talked about it? Properly, not yelling or moaning or nagging. Have you both come to a compromise about it? Have you thought of a way to move on? If not, why not? go and do it now, make you SO a cup of tea/coffee/beverage of their choice and go and have a chat.
(Don't panic I asked Mr TM for his input on this blog post and he's cool with it. He said to tell you I'm the messiest wife in the world and he is not a neat freak, that's just his wife being rude, he is just averagely tidy, despite that, neither of us has killed the other...yet)