26.5.19

Leaping aboard the plastic-free bandwagon

Unless you live on the moon or a very remote volcano I'm guessing you will be aware of the recent sudden surge of activity to save our planet from ourselves.

In human history, much like other animal history we pottered along for years and years, using things, replacing things, recycling things and just generally being fairly neutral in planetary terms. But then suddenly we had a leap into the new, we started inventing things, and we went crazy.

Over only a very, very short space of time (in planet terms) we started filling the place with junk. Using things, tossing them aside, making new things...like children let loose with new toys we just ran amok and suddenly we seem to have sat back and realised we need to take some responsibility.

People are all looking at ways to do that and actions range from nothing ("governments and big business should do that - it's not up to us, what can we do?"), through going vegan, going vegetarian, not buying new clothes (slow fashion is very much en mode), using cotton bags in place of plastic (the jury is still out on that) to not using single use plastics.

I have decided to do a small thing. There is nothing wrong with small things, and we can all do something. I am no longer buying any bathroom stuff, toiletries or make up, that is wrapped in, or uses plastic as its container.


At first this seemed really simple. Years ago I moved back to bars of soap. I love that a bar of soap in the bathroom makes the room smell good, you can store the spare bars in your wardrobe or clothes drawers and get the same lovely effect there too. Choosing only soap packed in paper was simple. There are so many choices, from Lush products, to small businesses on Etsy.

Next I looked at shampoo. Again a nice easy one, I already buy shampoo bars from Lush for when I go camping (no danger of spilling the shampoo) so I would just stop buying bottles at all, and use bars at home too.

I use conditioner but more importantly I use a glosser or hair serum, so I was pleased to find a few of these in glass. I usually use one that is packed in plastic, I haven't tried these new ones yet, but I have high hopes.

I'm not a huge makeup user so this wasn't difficult. I only really use facial moisturiser and lip balm. I found a few posh face creams that are packed in glass, and some on Etsy too (Etsy is fast becoming my go to place). Plenty of companies make little tins of lip balm. Some make little tins of hand balm too.

Of course there will be no facial wipes, nothing that is use once and bin is good for that planet. I currently use a flannel, but I am also looking at some cute washable face wipes.

I shower more than I bath, so soap and shower bars are the new go to. And for the odd bath if I really want it scented there are bath salts, bath bombs or glass bottles of bath oil or foam.


Shaving .... I am not binning everything plastic I own already, that would be silly, so I have an electric razor, but the cheap plastic disposables will have to go, I will either have to buy a new safety razor and change the blades, or stop wet shaving. (Tip on blade disposal, place used blades in a small tin until the tin is full, then pop into the metal recycling) Shaving soap is available in blocks.

Deodorant. Back to Lush again for a block of this, although Primal Suds make some too. There are several companies that make deodorant packed in cardboard . My main gripe with them is the price, often nearly 10 times the price of a cheap plastic pack, and the lack of a good antiperspirant , but I'm still hunting.

Teeth. You will all know about bamboo tooth brushes and there are lots on the market. However I do love my electric brush and I think that's something that companies need to look at. I have quite a few spare heads for the electric brush at the moment so I'll be crossing that bridge later. But what about toothpaste? Almost all toothpaste is packed in plastic. Euthymol still uses old fashioned metal tubes but it doesn't contain fluoride (that may or may not be important to you) Most organic and eco toothpastes, powders and tablets don't contain fluoride, which I was pretty annoyed about as fluoride helps protect your tooth enamel. Then I stumbled onto tooth tablets with fluoride from KickPlastic and I have immediately ordered some. What a find the website was! Lots of great plastic free options for home and bathroom.

So that's me sorted. Wood, glass and metal where once there was plastic. I'll let you know if I find any more little gems. And please comment with your own finds, especially makeup - that's not really my thing so I didn't really look for plastic free options there.

No one paid me to post this, or even sent me anything for review, more's the pity ;-)


13.3.19

Wordy Wednesday with Michelle Midnight

Wordy Wednesday greetings  to you all, let me welcome you to the blog, grab a beanbag or a comfy chair and cuddle up in this virtual nook while I introduce you to the author of the week, Michelle Omari.

Michelle writes as Michelle Midnight. She is a 17 year old writer from a small city in California, and is currently writing  her novel, Society's Trial. 

Her hobbies consist of reading (in a tree during the summer, on her bed during the other seasons), programming, and of course, writing. She loves all things dark and morbid. (was the pen name a clue!?) Her favourite author is Stephen King, and her favourite poet is Edgar Allen Poe. She loves shows such as Supernatural, Doctor Who, and American Horror Story. Also, she thinks she may  have an addiction to green tea.


So let's find out a bit more...
Michelle, how long have you been writing?
I've been writing for about eight years.

Why did you start writing? And what makes you keep doing it?
I started writing in fourth grade when I was nine-years-old. I was in a four-five combo class, and the teacher assigned a writing project for the fifth graders when it was nearly Halloween. She decided to make us fourth graders do it as well, and I had so much fun with it. My story was called Don't Take What's Not Yours. It was a horror story with three characters in it. Spoiler alert: they all died. Since that moment, I realised I loved to write, and I continued to write after that.

Who is your least favourite character and why? If the character is one of yours, how hard is it to write a character you dislike? 
It's difficult for me to dislike a character I've created. I've fallen in love with every single one of my characters, even the most messed up and sadistic villains. However, there are two characters who I despise in my current project. Their names are Lars and Drew. They're only minor characters yet they managed to annoy me. I don't have a specific reason why I don't like them. Maybe I don't hate them, maybe I just haven't learned to love them yet. You probably think it's difficult for me to write them, but that's not true. I love to make them suffer.

What is the best snack to keep you going while you write?
The best snack for writing is grapes. They're tasty, low in calories, easy to eat, and they don't leave a mess. 

Do you have a day job (student?) or do you write full time? If you don't have a job, is being a writer full time your dream or do you have a job you'd love to do?
I don't have a day job since I'm still a high school student. In the future, I want to become a software engineer while being a writer on the side. Being a full time writer would be fun, but I love programming and computers, so I'd want to do something related to that in my life.

Do you have any unfinished stories that you are not currently working on? If so why have you shelved them and do you think they will be reanimated one day?
I have many stories I've started but never finished. I started my first novella when I was a 12 year old middle schooler. It was a dark fantasy/supernatural kind of story. When I started high school, I got bored of it, so I put it away to work on my novel, Society's Trial. I thought about abandoning that novella, but I changed the characters' names and rewrote the outline. Now I'm in love with it again. It's not a novella anymore. Now it's a novel, and it will be my second novel. Even though I fell back in love with it, I still won't work on it until I've landed an agent for Society's Trial. As for the other stories, I refuse to continue working on them because I'm not done living the world of Society's Trial.

What story are you writing right now? Tell us about the plot (no spoilers please)
I started writing my current story when I was 14. It's a third person omniscient YA psychological crime thriller titled Society's Trial which follows sixteen year old bookworm Jace Woods. After the bully, Claude, pulls a "prank" that went wrong, Jace gets rushed to the hospital, so he could get his injuries treated and get an MRI scan. The doctor notices a change in Jace's personality, so he leaves the room to retrieve the results of the MRI scan. Jace becomes impatient, so he leaves before the doctor can return. It turns out, certain areas of Jace's brain became "damaged." These areas will "turn off," causing poor judgement, empathy loss, and impulsivity then "turn back on" randomly. What this means is, if these areas turn off while he has a violent thought, his brain will be unable to stop him from acting upon that thought.

Can we buy any of your stories and if so where? If not is there anywhere we can read them? 
Unfortunately, Society's Trial isn't published yet, since I'm currently querying and seeking an agent. However, I occasionally post snippets on my Twitter (@Writer_By_Night) and sometimes on my Tumblr (midnight-writing-time.tumblr.com)

If you could travel to anywhere in the world right this minute where would you go?
If I could travel anywhere at this moment, I'd go to an empty field with a stack of books with me. I'd place a blanket on the ground, lie down, enjoy the silence, and read. I'd have the most peaceful day ever.

If you could have one super power what would it be?
Only one? That's a difficult question. I'd say the power to control time. The days go by so quick, I wish I can freeze time or slow it down.

Thanks to Michelle for answering my questions and letting you all into her thoughts. Do follow her on twitter and be there to watch a novel being born, and then you can say that you were there before she was famous.

As we don't have a book image to share, here is an image of almost midnight.
Thanks for reading.


2.1.19

The first Wordy Wednesday of 2019

I know I haven't blogged since hector was a pup, but fear not for I have a treat for you today.

No 2018 round up, no best bits of my year, no lists of funniest tweets or my most read blog posts, no; today for your enjoyment I have revisited a favourite person of mine, a friend and author...can you guess?

 Welcome back to the blog Ed! I had interviewed Edward Kendrick back in 2015 so it seemed like it was about time to have another chat and see what he's been up to.

Well Ed, what have you been up to since last we heard from you?

Good question (puts shiny apple on blogger’s table). Well, it’s been a funny old time really. In the three and a half years between interviews I’ve continued to write, do some self-publishing and generally tried to make things happen. I haven’t really chased agents in a long time and things have been difficult with work and deteriorating mental health problems, and that kind of thing tends to get in the way of word mining. Total bummer.

Still, I’ve somehow managed to release another four novels. A trilogy set in the soft toy afterlife about all kinds of serious things as well as fluff, stuffing and prat falls, and a near future sci fi sports biography type thing (you can see why agents are attacking my door with crowbars, desperate to get at my easy to sell goods). They are all pretty good, to be honest, but I would say that.


In addition to that I’ve written four more novels that are in various stages of development* Plus, I plan to self-publish two further novels in January 2019. The first is called Self Portrait and is the third part in the Gita Askari sci-fi series and the second is a spoof spy/assassin novel titled Diamond Double Black. Art is all in place. Editing has been done, just the formatting and general mucking about to go.


*gathering dust in a draw/hard drive.

How Does family life affect your writing?

Well, it comes in different packages. It makes me want to write things that the kids would want to read as well as more mature readers and I hope it makes me care a bit about people in general, and so show some kindness through to the characters I want to write about. In reality I’m not sure how true that last bit is, but anyways…

In more practical, nuts and bolts terms, it makes writing very difficult. I have a physical job that can leave me physically and mentally drained. I get back and I want to spend time with the kids and my lovely wife. The writing takes a back stage. If I can get the computer on before 8 o clock then I have a chance of getting some words in that make sense, past that then the exercise starts to become futile as I can’t get passed the fatigue as I have no momentum to push through it.
I wouldn’t put the writing first, ever. My family are the important bit. This is a flight of fancy, promising invisible unicorns and whispered praise that could just be long delayed echo.

What books have you enjoyed reading in 2018?

Here is a tricky one. I’ve been very depressed this year and one of the things that does is remove my ability to concentrate for long periods of time. I’ve pushed my head up above water every now and then and managed to get a book in or a tv series I’ve enjoyed, but for the most part it’s been a fog.
Saying that, I read The Real Town Murders by Adam Roberts in January, which I really enjoyed and I’ve been reading A Christmas Carol out loud to my wife in bed. Obviously, we know the story off by heart already but still, it’s good to go back and read it. Still a bit weird that it doesn’t have the muppets in the book, but you can’t have everything.

What’s the best food to accompany writing?

This year? Fizzy strawberry laces. Hands down.

What’s one thing that stops you writing?

My mental health. If I’m not in a good place then I can still write, but not even I can type when at the bottom of the well.

If you could visit any country on Earth. Where would you go? (all expense paid)

I’ve never actually left the British Isles before, which I know is rare now, but it’s true. I’d love to go to lots of places on this wonderful globe but top shot would be Canada. I like the cold and the heat and I love the idea of all that space/northern lights/snow/north American continent stuff without visiting Trump’s America. Plus, I have one of my oldest buddies out there. In truth, I miss him far more than I’d ever tell him, and never contact him enough on Facebook. So, I would go there. (can I go for several weeks to a month, so I could do loads of stuff? Cheers!)

And what does a writer hope to get for Christmas?
That is a tough one. I normally have my eye on a film or two and some music, but really, that is something I’m pretty sure I’m going to get, so the mystery isn’t really there. To tell you the truth, I really like getting a gift that’s left of field. Every year my older friends gather together around Christmas and we hang for the day and have a laugh. This always involves gift giving. I normally give people handmade gifts. Weird calendars, odd posters, unconventional jigsaws, that kind of thing. They, in return, head to the internet to wow me with the very worst they can find.
I’ll just attach a picture, because a picture can say a thousand words….


Well, I think that's enough of that!

Thanks for popping back and I'll check out all the new reads.

You can follow Ed on twitter too where he squeezes out words almost every day.

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