Writing a Thing in November… But Starting Early Chapter 1 Sneaky Peek

A few years back I attempted the nanowri..thingy… (NaNoWriMo) where you try to write an insane amount of words in a month alongside your standard job, social stuff and life. I failed with the dismal failure of anyone attempting to fit in an extra 50’000 words in 30 days who also teaches and hurts their fingers when they type too much (ha! The irony of my blog).

Ever since, its been bugging me that I never did get around to writing anything more interesting than a book on programming, and recently I’ve had some lovely comments about my blog. So… I decided to create something. I suck at fiction, I just don’t have the creativity for it and on top of that, I can’t keep up with someone else’s plot let alone my own. So instead I’ve decided to make use of my current glut of inner monologue that’s making it online, gather up my research and write a book about EDS. Not a preachy self help book, not a lengthy medical journal, but a slightly helpful whilst attempting dry humour type of book. When I was pregnant with Beanpole, the best book I had was one written by someone who came across as terrified and clueless as I felt and yet provided me some hints as to where to look for proper information and reassured me that being crap at pregnancy was not unusual. I’d love to have a book to walk me through dealing with this diagnosis from someone who can simultaneously laugh about their toe trying to fall off and assure me that the pain I’m feeling is actually ok. And as I’m breaking all of the NaNoWriMo rules, I’m setting my own time limits and will self publish.

The idea came to me on the way home from work a few weeks ago. There is so much stuff to learn about EDS when you get a diagnosis, and the places to learn it from are either a bit vague or terrifyingly high brow. Frankly, I’m on too many painkillers to cope with anything more than a pop up book…. hang on… we’re onto something here…

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce: “The Ehlers Danlos Pop Out Book”

Well it made me laugh. And I’m allowed to be cheesy, it’s my book. I’d genuinely love it to be an actual pop up book, but apparently, unless you can fund a full 10’000 copy print run and get them shipped in from China, there’s little hope of that happening.

I’m not putting all of the insides on here, but I thought that each time I completed a chapter, I’d reward myself my publishing a sneaky peek on here for you to see. Chapters aren’t actually being written in any form of order. Instead, I’m picking up a topic as and when I either find some interesting research or my own symptoms flare.

So Sneaky Peek 1 is here, and it’s all about poop 😉

If you’re a parent, ask yourself, “When did I last have a conversation with my child(ren) about how often they should poo and what it should look like?”. I’m not talking about the “oh hell, get your hand OUT of your nappy! No! Not on the wall!!”, conversation, but a how to keep yourself healthy talk. Chances are, either not at all, or only if they were ill. And yet, as we get older, we are meant to be on the lookout for any signs of unusual activity. Most of us are woefully ill prepared for adult pooping habits.

So it came as a bit of a shock to me, once I started researching more about this zebra that it actually isn’t normal to not poop for days. Most people don’t feel constipated at least once a week. It isn’t normal for bouts of constipation to be relieved by a day of mega diarrhea. Not pooping for a week is a bad thing. I’m 35. This info could have been rather useful at… Ooh I don’t know… age 10?

I promise there is more than 2 paragraphs to this. Honest!

643 / 10000 words.
6% done.

Free stuff! For free.

It’s going to be one of those days. Earlier I uploaded my newly created Image technology for computing CSI style resources, and now after much faffing about (and general non payment of commission) by Amazon, I’ve uploaded a link to the PDF version of the book here.

If I’m not going to get paid for it, at least it might help someone get into coding. And that’s worth a free (and legitimate) download.

All I ask is that you acknowledge it’s mine and chuck a link to the page, or at the very least keep my name on the book. It is my hard work and a good few months of my life there!

Enjoy 🙂

download from my book page

Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

I’m not competitive (much), but I do like a challenge. And today I got challenged to join in with a project where you write a novel in a month. That’s 50’000 words. Crap. I’ve got myself into this now and I’ve got a sodding idea, so I’m going to have to follow it through. If anyone is insane enough to join me, the website fir this is http://nanowrimo.org

Write what you know say wise people, so a lot of this is from my own and blatantly stolen from my dearest friends experiences of having children (and consequently no money). Everyone seems to write about the first baby, so I’m going for the second. In diary form.

I’m calling it ‘Austerity Baby!’ (Look! Topical and everything!) and here’s the first draft of the first chapter.

Note: there will be illustrations. I think. Maybe.

Week 1 – Normality

I’m in the kitchen after work preparing a delight of cheese sandwiches cut into random shapes and mushed up banana. The Toddler announces her presence by running her plastic spoon up and down the baby gate like a prisoner trying to get their jailer to fill their coffee mug. The familiar monotonous word “muuuuuuuuuuummmm” is repeated over and over. And over. And over.

Deep breath, smile, turn around. “Come on then! Let’s get you dinner!”.

As I gaze at the terrifying toddler TV show in which Iggle Piggle gets mucky patches over Upsy Daisy, I start to chuckle. Then laugh. Then uncontrollably giggle. And it’s in this state that James discovers me when he crosses the threshold of our mildly decrepit flat. One hysterically giggling girlfriend with a slightly concerned looking 12 month old daughter in a high chair who is swishing a hexagon of cheese and bread into her hair. Poor man.

James and I met through a mutual friend and instantly hit it off. We shared a love of music and whiskey and beer… and wine. We were good at getting each other home safe, if only because we counterbalanced each other’s wobble. Within a matter of months we had moved into a shared flat above a takeaway (very useful) and started recklessly abusing our 20(ish) year old bodies with alcohol, junk food and an astonishing amount of sex. It was clear we were using up our ‘couple quota’ and probably borrowing from someone else’s. We were essentially credit shagging. It was clearly unfair to the general population (more specifically our flat mates) and so someone upstairs found a simple solution that would put at least one of us off for a while.

The Toddler was born just one year after our first night of indecency and frankly it was rather a shock to the system. We were rebellious no longer. Or rather we were still rebellious in our heads, but the actions were more based around sleepless nights and working out which end to stick the nappy on.* As it turn out, the business end is the least of your worries, but enough of babies, we have a Toddler to enjoy!

At 5 months, breast was begrudgingly swapped for bottles and I returned to work, leaving a contented little roll of fat with complete strangers for three days per week. But, this did mean that the rolls of fat could continue to grow rather than starve which frankly was a real prospect when rent and bills must be paid.

So here we were a year later, as working parents, living in a slightly decrepit, but now decorated in ‘tonal’ colours, flat above a takeaway. Cloth nappies now dried on a clothes horse in the hall, and our bedside was now littered with muslin squares and Calpol instead of beer cans and hastily discarded knickers. Any knickers now to be found out of the underwear drawer were large, and comfortable – so large in fact they could possibly house a small family if given the correct scaffolding. These came with promises of a ‘slimmer tummy’ or ‘magic tummy’. These knicker LIE ladies! Post Caesarian, short of pure steel reinforced encasment, there are no pants which will provide you with a pre-pregnancy tummy. However, hope remains, as do the massive knickers.

And in these massive knickers (and other work clothes), I remain racked with the giggles over the utter filth emitting from the kids TV show.

“Er… Are you ok?”, asks James. After much gasping for air I reply that I am and insist that he closes his eyes and JUST LISTEN to the current conversation between characters.


He starts to snigger. “You are filth!” He exclaims in mock embarrassment. “I can’t possibly marry you now!”. It was at this point that we realised it was high time for us to have some down time, and plans were made for the Toddler to be sat upon by my parents and us to hold a party.

An actual party. With grown ups! And alcohol! Yes indeed, now I am no longer a walking vending machine with tits the size of my head, I can contemplate drinking again. Admittedly, only when the situation arose where I did not need to be responsible for another human for at least 24 hours, but this opportunity had arisen, and I was not going to waste it with ‘moderation’!

And this is how this story came to be. Everything that follows can be traced back to Iggle Piggle and his mucky patches. It’s clearly his fault. Not mine. (Are you buying this yet, or should I keep going?).

* Dear reader! Just saying the end which is producing solids is no good! Both ends of a baby do this! And when breastfed, both ends produce remarkably similar projectile solids!

Some day when I’m awfully low, and the world is cold…

I was checking my emails today looking for a reminder for something and saw a random email had come through asking me about the book I wrote for GCSE Computing before last academic year. I duly replied and sent a link to the ebook on Amazon and offered a paper copy if needed. Then I realised I’d got a review on the book.

“Cool!”, I think. This means someone’s actually read it. It was better than that.

It was a review from one of my old students….

Amazon Review

It’s been a tough old week and this was just the loveliest thing to find. I hope they’re doing well this year.

Writing Books With Kids

So, this holiday’s plan is to get BeanPole writing more creatively. Her reading is years ahead of her actual 8 years, but she is painfully scientific.

The bribe for writing is that she must:

  • write the story
  • create the characters
  • draw the characters and backgrounds

Then I will help her:

  • turn her story into an ebook
  • use scratch to turn the story into a game
  • create a website for her where people can play the game and read her book

This is a project and a half, but should be fun! It’s also giving me some ideas for lesson planning for next year!

Today’s plan is to write out the main story notes, characters and talk about how the story is structured. This does mean Beanpole gets to use her tablet for something other than temple run!