Chickens

Lizard Attack

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I’m very anti killing any sort of creature. Sometimes though, if they pose a mortal threat to humans around here or any of my feathered and furred horde, I do assist them off this mortal coil. Like the one and a half metre mamba in my office that I nearly stood on last year. Can’t have snakes that can have you dead in a couple of hours in or around the house.

A huge monitor lizard has been popping up around and about lately scaring the crap out of everyone. I was hoping that he’d just go away. No such luck though. I chased him out of the palm tree the other day, where he was ripping open weaver nests and eating the baby birds. Actually I threw a candle holder at him from the window I spotted him from, not being keen to go near the nasty looking bugger. They’re pretty vicious if you go near them and this one was the size of a medium dog. The candle holder worked though – he headed off and I forgot about him.

Yesterday in the middle of slaving over a hot computer I suddenly didn’t “feel right”. I know that sounds mad – it felt mad too, but something definitely just seemed wrong. Thinking that I’d lost my last marble again, I took myself off to make some tea. Looking out of the window, I saw five of my chickens standing still as statues with their necks stretched right out. This weird little scenario was more than enough to have me zooming out to see what was causing it. When I reached them they just eyeballed me, unfroze, and went about their business.

Unsuspecting me then headed into the henhouse to check for eggs, and turning the corner, nearly stood on bloody Godzilla as he prepared to chomp down on a terrified hen cowering in the corner. He immediately hissed, turned, and sprang at me. Obviously I let out a bloodcurdling yell and ran like hell, brave soul that I am. This brought Dzingy (who works in the garden) rushing over brandishing a large pole, and the dog brandishing some large teeth. Everyone leapt into the fray. I tried really hard to get Sprite away from the lizard, but for once he totally ignored me, and I had visions of his face clamped in those powerful hissing lizard jaws. Fortunately Dzingy quickly whacked it a mean shot on the head with his pole, taking it down and killing it instantly.

Sprite’s behaviour was an eye-opener though. A really Lassie kind of moment. His mother was a huge German Shepherd bred specifically to be a security dog, and quite scary, but his dad was my beloved old softy Labrador, Odin. I always thought that Sprite totally took after his father. He’s generally very sweet, plays and buggers about and wouldn’t harm a fly. The chickens swipe bits of meat right out from under his nose, and one of them always hangs around with him, pecking at spots on his coat. He just sighs and carries on. Yesterday he was total attack dog as far as that lizard was concerned. He was not having it in his henhouse. Good for him! So he got an extra big bone to share with his chicken buddy after that. Thank goodness I got my ominous feeling when I did though – mad or not – if I had arrived a few seconds later, I would have lost one of the horde. And we can’t have that.

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Chickens And Bees

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Busy week, dodgy internet. The usual bits and pieces. A couple of swarms of bees have invaded the house over the last couple of days. The first lot caught me out in the dressing room with only a tin of air freshener for ammo. It worked though. I came out scathed with only one sting, and that was from standing on a floored bee. Not too bad considering my usual luck. I wonder at the wisdom of using cute bees on children’s cakes and so on. Certainly around here I wouldn’t want any child being under the impression that a bee is in any way cute and wandering over to say Hi to a swarm. I get chills just thinking about it. These little buggers are deadly.

My feathered horde is growing. Angus has been eyeballing a limping baby chicken around and about, and being the macho, uncaring guy that he is, made a point of finding its owner, buying it, and bringing it home. Of course I named him Naka. He’s a sweet little guy, but the rest of the horde bully him, so he hobbles around all on his own all day. They bully the dog too. They’re like a gang of chicken hoods. How to stop chicken bullying – anyone know?

Right now our anthology group is preparing to launch its first book. So that excitement won’t leave me any time to get African Me out there for a little while. I’m not in any hurry any more though. I’m planning brand new covers for existing books anyway, and a re-launch of everything with bells and whistles.

I’m finally figuring out that it’s not necessary to zoom as much as I always feel compelled to do. In fact, I’m learning that speed can be a bad thing as far as establishing yourself as an indie writer is concerned. With my very soul being zoomy, I’m finding slowing down a little hard, but I’m definitely a lot happier with what I’m producing, and learning. I’m loving combining writing with painting too. I’ve started four paintings – one for each cover, but even though that really is slow going, it’s brilliant seeing my own visions for my scribbles coming to life a little.

Till next time friends. xxx

Path

Guilty Of Speeding

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Still busy sorting all my old blog posts into categories. Seeing the dates on these posts has made me realise how quickly I’ve zoomed along this indie writing road. I opened the WordPress site in March 2012 after joining Facebook in January. Before that the only IT knowledge I had was how to operate my cellphone – sort of.

As far as writing went, I’d only started that the year before when I wrote African Me & Satellite TV, scribbled in notebooks and on bits of paper shoved into an old manila folder. The story had been niggling at me for a while. To begin with I really just wished it would go away. I’d never written anything before. Never yearned to be an author, or ever imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be capable of writing so much as a paragraph of fiction that anyone would actually want to cast their eyeballs over.

It never went away though. It grew and grew, and became my obsession, until finally it was done, sitting in a tatty pile on my desk along with the two books that grew side by side with it. Two of the characters in African Me were so huge to me that they had to have books of their own. And so they did.

Not ever having been on line before, and not even knowing that Kindles existed, I tentatively tried to look for agents. I’ve never approached one though. A friend suggested that I join Facebook and look for writers there. I did, and found one brilliant little group of mainly aspiring authors and one or two stars. There, apart from gaining a couple of amazing friends, I learned about indie publishing. It was only towards the end of last year that I found myself swept away on the indie highway.

Along the learning way I’ve published two short stories, and a sci-fi/fantasy novel on Amazon, obviously expecting to be hugely famous mere hours after pushing the upload button. Shame about that. I’ve found out lots about finishing, formatting, and publishing e-books, as well as creating covers for them, not to mention marketing and SEO. The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is that I have only one toe in the water. As far as indie publishing and marketing knowledge is concerned I still have miles to travel. I’m just really glad to be on the trip.

And that trip was all about getting African Me & Satellite TV published. There were just unexpected twists, trips, and bonuses along the way. I now have the first book in a series out there, with loads more to come. I’m painting away to create images of Lapillus and the characters in Shadow People, so that anyone who reads the books see them a little as I do. I’ve learned that writing and reading short, sharp stories is brilliant. For the first time in my life I’ve written poetry. This was really hard, but a bit of African Me just had to have it, and I’m very happy with how it turned out.

African Me & Satellite TV will be published soon, and I am terrified and excited. My main point of this ramble is that no matter what trip you are on, you never know where it will take you.

To writers more newbie than myself I say – gosh – are there any? Seriously though, from what I’ve learned so far I have a couple of opinions.

• Don’t publish your beloved first. Publish another brilliant, but lesser love first and learn the ropes a little.
• Don’t believe that just because you have “Author” attached to your moniker, thousands will fawn at your feet.
• Learn about marketing on line, and follow through. I’ve been held back in this department by constant (daily – very often weekly) power outages, and the weakest internet signal on the planet, but that has never stopped me from trying.
• Research every thing that you do. Don’t fall for “editor” “publisher” tricks – there are a lot of nasties out there who will con you properly. Check credentials.
• Beware of spending the majority of your waking hours in the wrong areas of cyberspace. Do you really think that posting links to your books on a group of other indie writers will generate sales or get you real readers?
• Do join other indie writers for online events. You will build up a group of indie writer friends over time and this is good. You support each other. Boost each other. You need this. Just be careful who you team up with. Make sure your indie buddies are cool.
• Don’t ask people for fake reviews. If I see a book with hundreds of gushing five star reviews, I’m immediately wary. And if I then read the book, and it’s really bad, I’m not a happy girl at all. I do review for friends, but never if they ask me. If I like what I see, am a fan of the genre they have written in, I buy their book. I never leave bad reviews – ever. If I don’t like a book I leave it at that. There are loads of people willing to leave crap reviews – some that seem incapable of spelling “and”, I’m sorry to say.
• Have patience. What will be, will be.

Till next time friends. xxx

PP AM Final Cover

Pink Elephants And Chickens

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Talk about a sucker punch! I really never saw that nasty bit of illness heading my way. I have heard around here lately that you should take antibiotics with anti-malarials these days. But living here, it’s easy to forget that this disease is a killer. Being all-knowing and obviously immortal, when I got stopped short by malaria last week, I never did that. After one fairly perky day after my course I was properly taken down. I’ve had quite a few days of fever, aches, and no logic to the fuzziness of my brain. I’m still far from being in any way perky, and quite nervous now of disease comebacks. I don’t think that I’ve ever felt worse in my life. But I believe I’ll change my stubborn ways now, and pop pills left, right and centre forevermore. The eight hour round trip to a new and unknown doctor isn’t going to happen either, unless I keel over and get carried out. I have my feathered flock to worry about. Who will they have to abuse if I’m not around? So I’d better just get better now, and that’s that really.

I’m pretty sure that delirious is the word for my frame of mind yesterday when I stumbled my way to the kitchen for some water. I peered out the window, as you do, and saw three distinctly chickeny looking things zooming across the lawn towards the enclosure where Jack and Diane (the turkeys) sleep. I fished my cellphone out of my pocket. I was fairly convinced that they weren’t real. These have been some strange fevers, and my eyeballs seemed to not be firing on all cylinders most of the time – they’re still not on top form really. Not trusting them at all. I took a few pictures to verify that these fowls were really real, and not the product of some gross little parasite munching away at my brain cells. I headed on out, and there they were, munching on turkey leftovers. Three funny looking bush chickens with standing up feathers on their heads. They glanced up at me, obviously feeling right at home, then carried on munching. I ran out of steam at that point and went back in to conk back out.
Chickens

Anyway. It transpired that they were owned by a guy called Sunny Boy, who is in charge of the big generator here. I said to send a message to him, that his chickens were here, and when he came to get them, he eyeballed me sympathetically, and said that if I liked them, I could have them, no charge. I almost took my phone out to record him, again doubting my senses. The people here can’t afford to head on to town to buy chickens or anything else for that matter, and they have very little money. Their livestock is very important to them, and they don’t generally give it away. These three chickens would have been kept for his family’s special occasions, or sold to buy some other essential. I’m thinking that they are chicken, guinea fowl crosses, which would explain their interesting looks, and is quite a common mix here. As I was saying, I knew that he couldn’t afford to give them to me but I didn’t want to insult him by not taking his gift. My reputation for being ruled by all things feathered, my wild hair, and probably rolling eyeballs must have invoked his pity. “No, no,” said I, “I would love to buy them from you.” “No, no” said he, “They are my gift to you.” For once cultural niceties would have to be forgone though. Of course I absolutely refused accept his noble gesture. I insisted on paying, and I did, and I don’t think this upset him too much after all. I’m just really amazed at this weird little happening. Three odd little chickens moving in all on their lonesome, and settling down to stay.

As those of my friends who had the courage to read my previous terrible blog will know, I have had chickens on my mind of late. Not to mention my most cool Naka in Shadow People, chicken looking scientist guy of note, who gave me some trouble to begin with, as to the place of large clever chickens in science fiction novels. To be honest, the things that I’ve recently discovered about chicken “farming” have seriously depressed me, dented my belief that people don’t do cruel and terrible things unless it’s unavoidable, even though it’s for profit, and made me consider the facts of size and availability. Of course I love my big gorgeous elephants, and am right behind anyone lobbying to stop the shooting of them, but it seems to me that if you are small, and easy to breed you are insignificant. The smaller you are, and the more you breed, the less likely you are to feel pain apparently. There aren’t a lot of people fighting for the rights of the humble chicken. Although there will be one more from now. Me.

I am a little amazed that the universe gave me chickens, here and now. These three little guys, or girls, we shall have to wait and see what they turn out to be, have cheered me up no end. I have no clue how they got in, and Sunny Boy has no clue why they left, but that’s what they did. They headed on over, and moved right in, just when I couldn’t have done with anything better. Jack has been strutting around, showing them how gorgeous he is with his feathers fluffed out, and Diane is appalled at the very sight of them, so they’ve been given their own house to sleep in.
Kewpie

Before I get back to catching up on all that I’ve missed these last few days, I must mention that Kewpie the baby weaver has been practicing his flying, obviously because my older weaver bird has had more opportunities to assault him while I’ve been sick. She’s turned into the real Angry Bird with her jealous tantrums. To the tune of, “Ack, ack, ack,” Kewpie now zooms off quite nicely when she heads on over to bounce on his little head. Although he is still scared of her, as are we all. I’m starting to think I need a bird whisperer. How do you control two inches of screeching feathers that feels she can chase the dog away all by herself, and actually can? Here she is glaring from her grimy light fitting, which no one is allowed near to clean. Dear little Jelly the terror.

Till next time friends. xxx

Tantrum