Sunday, 23 October 2011


I started The Kingdom of Malinas when I was seventeen and self-published it several years later in 2008. The second book in the trilogy, The Empress Graves, needed a rewrite and a whole sub-plot adding before it could be published on my birthday in 2010.

The third and final book in The Power of Malinas trilogy, The Barbarians' Key, has now finally been written. I started it years ago, after finishing the first draft of the second book, but I only got to chapter sixteen before I went on to do other things.

I picked it up after completing The Empress Graves and worked hard trying to remember what I had intended the resolution of the series to be! Luckily, I kept notes, so I looked through those - keeping some ideas, abandoning others, even deciding not to add in two new characters I'd created. The plot is far more complex than in the other two books, there is more happening and the action takes place throughout the country of Aldenland.

I have been through my first draft, tweaking and editing and correcting mistakes, and now the book is with a lovely beta reader who will let me know exactly which bits work and which don't.

I will then work on it again. And soon, I hope, I will release it on Lulu.

In the meantime, here is what the cover will look like:

Monday, 5 September 2011

The Barbarians' Key Progress!

I'm almost done. Sorrel and co are ready to face their final hurdle. I keep thinking about the ending and I have a vague idea of what's going to happen. I'm not sure how it will work but the only way to find out is to write it and see.

Once it's written it's still not finished. First, I'll go back through and look for mistakes. Sometimes our brains tell us we've written what we were supposed to write, when in reality we've used the completely wrong word. I'll look for missing words, typos and grammar problems.

Then, I'll make sure everyone is where they're supposed to be. And that certain objects haven't suddenly disappeared from a character's hands, and that the weather is consistent. I'll check that characters with accents keep those accents. I'll make sure that personalities aren't suddenly and dramatically altered. I'll add things, take things away, tweak sentences and make sure that everything is as good as I can make it.

And then I'll format the document. Change the fonts and the spacing and the page numbers. I have a cover all ready to go, so I'll simply get myself an ISBN and then, hopefully, put the book up for sale.

The Barbarians' Key, and the Power of Malinas trilogy, will be complete.

Hopefully before Christmas.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Rats, and why certain things annoy me...

I'm a big fan of rodents and rats in particular. Rats, along with dogs, are my favourite animals. I've been keeping rodents as pets for a very long time and it's only now that I have Beau that I'm rodentless.

Let's see, I've had three Syrian hamsters (Jaffa, Biscuit and Rue), three Russian hamsters (Cadburys, Galaxy and Flapjack), five gerbils (Crunchie, Jazz, Maverick, Tipsy and Circus), two guinea pigs (Dougal and Len), two degus (Brimble and Bramble), a Shaw's jird (Woody), a mouse (Harvest), and eleven rats (Mayweed, Togepi, Eevee, Peanut, Domino, Madder, Malachi, Mouse, Loki, Pancakes and Shae).

I've also worked with rodents. Fancy mice, spiny mice,striped mice, pygmy mice, fancy rats, edible dormice, chinchillas, degus, guinea pigs, Russian hamsters, Syrian hamsters, Roborovski hamsters, bushy-tailed jirds...

And let me say that out of all those, the scariest, most evil creatures were the edible dormice. You had to wear gauntlets (those big gloves for birds of prey) to handle them, and they would growl at you without you even being able to see them. Second most evil, were the hamsters.

Now, I don't understand why people think hamsters make better pets for children than, say, rats. Hamsters need to be trained to be hand tame (rats don't!), and even then they'll probably still bite. I have a scar on my thumb from my friend's aptly named hamster, Nibbler. I also have a scar on my finger from my gerbil, Jazz, but she bit me because I was breaking up a fight between her and Crunchie. I just got in the way.

I have never been bitten by a rat. Ever.

My mum had a cockatiel called Pringle and around that time I had my first rat, Mayweed. Mayweed was the best rat ever. He was intelligent (could open doors and knew his name), loving and gentle. Pringle the cockatiel would often try to pull Mayweed's whiskers. One day, Mayweed had clearly had enough of this and so grabbed a mouthful of the bird's feathers. Pringle, being a wind-up merchant, came back for more. This time, when Mayweed went for him, I put my hand between the two of them. My rat, not being able to stop in time, closed his jaws around my finger. But he did NOT bite me. He realised he'd gotten me instead of the bird and pushed me away with his paw. I've never experience anything like that with any other animal. He knew he'd made a mistake and he managed to stop himself in time - Jazz my gerbil, did not. Hence my scar.

Now, what really annoys me is when they use rats on 'I'm a Celebrity, Get me out of Here.' The celebrities screech and squeal and do the usual 'how disgusting' nonsense that people do when they see a rat and then, whenever they have to put a finger near the rats, will exclaim 'They're biting me!'

What utter, utter nonsense. You would know if the rat had bitten you, you'd have blood pouring out of your finger. Rats have sharp claws and yes, to idiots, I imagine this must feel like biting. I wish the producers of this show would inform the ridiculous 'celebrities' that rats do not bite.

Actually, I wish they wouldn't use rats in their show at all. It's cruel.

What also annoys me is people who think it's okay for them to tell you how disgusting your pet is, just because it's a rat. I detest cats and yet I would never tell someone that their beloved pet was disgusting.

I've heard people say they don't like rat tails. Rat tails don't move all that much. If you put your finger beneath a mouse's tail, the tail will curl around your finger. Do the same to a rat tail and it doesn't grip the same way.

I've also heard people say that rats are dirty and that they smell. Rats do smell, all animals smell. But they don't smell half as bad as hamsters. And in fact, mice are the smelliest rodent. If you've ever watched a rat, you'll notice how much time they spend grooming and cleaning themselves also.

Another misconception is that all rats are black, or brown. Yes, in the wild. But pet rats come in all sorts of different colours. I've taken my rats to the vets before now only to have people come up to me, peer into my clear pet box, and say 'oh what a pretty little thing! Is it a hamster?' and when I reply 'No, it's a rat,' I see the look of disgust appear on their faces.

Let me end with this picture below. Do this look like a dirty, smelly, evil creature that will bite your face off? I think not.


Saturday, 9 July 2011

Butterfly Kisses

A flash piece I wrote some time ago. Based on a true story told to me by a friend...


Butterfly Kisses
EJ Tett

I’ll tell you a story, though you mustn’t laugh. I was walking home from school one time; it was a cold autumn so I was wrapped up warm. I was wearing a hat that pulled down over my ears and a pair of woolly gloves. I really hate the cold. I suppose I was just being a bit of a wuss... it wasn’t that cold; there was no snow, no frost... It was October though, and it was October cold.

I walked through a park and then a housing estate to get home. There was a shortcut, but it was through a dark little lane that I never liked the look of, and you hear stories about people disappearing from dark little lanes...

Anyway, on my way home this one time I saw a butterfly on the pavement in front of me. It was one of those pretty red ones with the eye pattern. I just thought it was dead. A poor dead frozen butterfly. But it wasn’t, its wings moved when I bent to have a look. They moved slowly though, as if the butterfly was dying or hurt... Butterflies are so beautiful how could I not help?! I removed my gloves and picked the butterfly up, carefully and gently because they’re such delicate creatures.

I took her home with me and called her Apricot. I wasn’t entirely sure she was a girl though, I’m not up on sexing butterflies...

Apricot lived in my bedroom. I did some research on butterflies on the internet and then fed her on watered down honey. I’m never quite sure if she ate it or if it just evaporated but I saw her go to it one time and curl her tongue into it.

I would go to school as normal every day and leave Apricot in my room. She couldn’t fly at that stage so she would just crawl along my desk and bookcase. I’d leave her on my net curtain sometimes so that she could get some light.

After a few months Apricot became tame. Or as tame as a butterfly can be. Once she was able to, she would fly around my room and then land on my nose when I was sleeping; leaving butterfly kisses on my cheek. I was scared that I would swat at her in my sleep and kill her but I never did.

I loved that butterfly, I nursed her back to health, kept her warm in the winter and let her fly again. One day I came home from school and my mum looked like she wanted to tell me something. When I asked her what was wrong she told me that she’d gone up to my room and opened the window... not realising that Apricot was on the net curtain...

A gust of wind swept my butterfly out into the cold and down to the ground outside. When my mum went down to retrieve her, the dog followed her out...

You can probably guess what happened. The dog ate Apricot.

Monday, 23 May 2011


I love taking photos. I spend far too long when I'm out somewhere taking photos of things rather than actually paying attention to whatever else is going on.

I recently bought a lovely new DSLR camera too. A Sony A390K. It's brilliant.


Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Barbarians' Key Progress!

Ok, so the goal of finishing The Barbarians' Key for my birthday has been missed. But, I'm now at 58 thousand words. I've written 8k in two months.

I kinda think that sounds okay. But then again, I completed the NaNo challenge of writing 50k in one month so... Probably not so good.

This manuscript is already longer than The Empress Graves and I think I'm about two thirds of the way through. This will probably end up being the longest book in the trilogy. It has so much more going on and a lot of the action takes place at two different parts of Aldenland. It's more complex too and I'm having to keep notes in my file so I know who's doing what, where, why and with who!

But, The Barbarians' Key will be finished this year. It will. :)

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Behind the Shutters

Behind the Shutters is a collection of short stories by the very talented Jo Robertson. These stories are all set in suburbia and feature ghosts, demons, and strange occurrences. The stories are well written and genuinely creepy. My favourite is 'My Name is Graham Roper.'

I highly recommend this book! You can buy it from Amazon.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Writing The Barbarians' Key

I started my Power of Malinas trilogy when I was seventeen. The first two books, The Kingdom of Malinas and The Empress Graves, were finished within a couple of years of each other. Book one I polished up and published. Book two I re-wrote, adding some scenes and another storyline before publishing.

Book three... Book three is The Barbarians' Key. I started it, but only managed about sixteen chapters before I got distracted by, well, life I guess!

Several years later and I'm trying to finish writing this book, telling myself to work on it every day. It's far more complex than the first two books with more plot lines and 'grown up' characters. I'm determined to finish it. Once it's written, then comes the task of editing and re-writing!

I'm currently at 45000 words and think I'm about halfway through. My target date is May. My birthday.

We'll see...

Monday, 14 February 2011


Last weekend my dog, Beau, had to be rushed to the vets and put on a drip. He had HGE or haemorrhagic gastroenteritis.

Luckily, he's ok now but it was a pretty horrible thing to go through. If you have a dog which had bloody diarrhoea, take it to the vets straight away! Beau went in as soon as possible when we noticed something was wrong, and then again when it got worse. Luckily, the drip, a course of antibiotics, canikur paste, and some special food for intestinal problems sorted him out and in a couple of days he was back to his old self.

Now I'm trying to work out what's best to feed him on for his sensitive stomach! He loves meat but it's so expensive and a lot of it gives him the runs... not pleasant when you have a dog as hairy as Beau is... and the dried food he just won't eat.

I'm pondering tripe. Nobody should have to ponder tripe.

Monday, 24 January 2011

A lovely, lovely poem

This is about crane flies AKA flying daddy long legs - the most evil, scary creatures ever.

There’s a daddy in the window
With long and spindly legs
I don’t know if it’s living
I don’t know if it’s dead
I can’t go any closer
In case it is alive
I’ll just stand here and watch it
And wait until it dies