Zoë Sharp
Zoë Sharp If you’re involved at all in the writing world, you’ll be aware that November is NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. This is the time of year when writers of all kinds try to get 50,000 words of a novel completed in 30 days. And no, sadly, I won’t be managing that aim this year, although there is still time for me to complete this month’s goal, which is to finish outlines for the next Charlie Fox novel plus a possible spin-off crime thriller. I’m well on the way with both. But what does NaNoWriMo have to do with Peanut Butter, Manatees, Vegans, Native American Heritage, and Pomegranates? The answer is that November is also officially the month to celebrate all these things. I had no idea. Not only that, but 2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, according to the United Nations. The resolution, passed in 2015, was described as “a unique opportunity to advance the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability—economic, social and environmental.” And November itself is positively bursting with celebration days. I’d no idea that November 1st was Authors’ Day, as well as Extra Mile Day, aiming to encourage people to go that little bit further towards helping others. Other celebrations on the first of the month included Go Cook For Your Pets Day and, perhaps in line with the start of NaNoWriMo, Stress Awareness Day. November 2nd was Men Make Dinner Day. It was also Deviled Egg Day and the day to Use Less Stuff. Any connection between those, do you think? November 3rd was the day for lovers of Sandwiches, Fountain Pens and Jellyfish. November 4th was Use Your Common Sense Day, and Numbat Day. No, I’d no idea what one of those was, either. November 5th, as well as being Guy Fawkes’ or Gunpowder Day, was also the time to remember Orphans, Love Your Red Hair, and do nothing, as it was Zero Tasking Day. November 6th was the day for Saxophones and Nachos. Nov 7th was a time for eating Bittersweet Chocolate With Almonds (honestly, I’m not making this up), preferably whilst Hugging A Bear—probably not a real one. November 8th was the day to remember X-Rays and also the day to Cook Something Bold and Pungent. Nov 9th was Chaos Never Dies Day. (Don’t ask me what that’s all about.) Nov 10th was the time to get excited about your Area Code and Sesame Street. Nov 10th? Origami Day. 11th? The Day for the International Tongue Twister, the Fancy Rat And Mouse, and Pizza With The Works Except Anchovies. (Come on! Really?) Hope you all took part in World Kindness Day on Nov 13th? And that you venerated Spicy Guacamole and Pickle on Nov 14th, as well as the Operating Room Nurse. Nov 15th was I Love To Write Day, but, just in case the muse wasn’t with you, it was also Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. Nov 16th was Have A Party With Your Bear Day, as well as the time to celebrate Buttons, Tolerance, Beaujolais Nouveau, Fast Food and Social Enterprise. Nov 17th was a time to Unfriend someone, to Take A Hike (or possibly a combination of the two), celebrate Prematurity, Petroleum, and bake your own Homemade Bread. Nov 18th is the day for the Occult and Mickey Mouse. And today, November 19th? Well, let’s just say it with pictures, shall we? Best guesses, please! No1 No2 ... obviously No3 No4 This week’s Word of the Week is dískoblundur, which is an Icelandic word which apparently means to take a nap before going out clubbing. Thanks to former Murder Is Everywhere blogmate, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, for that one. Upcoming Event: Thursday, November 23rd at 6:30pm, the Portsmouth Writers Hub presents ‘Femmes Fatales 2’ as part of DarkFest Portsmouth with Diana Bretherick talking to Alis Hawkins, Liz Mistry, and Zoë Sharp. Should be a ball!
Jeffrey Siger
Jeff—Saturday It’s midnight on Thursday, which means 24 hours until my Saturday blog goes live.  Only trouble is, I haven’t written it yet and tomorrow’s a 6AM wakeup call and departure for Charleston, South Carolina, followed by a 24/7 schedule, long in the planning by she-who-must-be-obeyed. Yep, I blew it. I should have written my post by now, but this week too many things just got in the way…like hypnotic CNN v. FOX coverage of our nation spewing out plot lines for Dystopian Psychotic Romance Thrillers at a Lucy-in-the-candy-factory pace. So, here I am, having never missed a blog post in seven years—yes, last week was my seventh anniversary among this magnificent crew—facing a decision:  To blog, or not to blog that is the question. And as if the fates were watching, a thought crossed my mind…of a post I’d published five years ago—almost to the day.  I’d written it as a lark about a year before then, never thinking I’d “publish” it.  It’s a parody of Hamlet’s self-questioning To be, or not to be soliloquy, and I thought it deserving of a second run—certainly under my current circumstances.  And, so, with that shoddy proffered excuse of an introduction, please come join along with the Bard's suffering hero as we struggle together amid my tortured parody. Laurence Olivier and Friend JEFFREY: To blog, or not to blog--that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer In despair at most blogs’ outrageous fortune Or to take pens against our shared troubles And by exposing end them. To fly, to leap-- To soar—or do we creep away to end The headache, and the thousand natural blocks That publish is heir to. 'Tis a consternation Devoutly to be wished on others.  Weep-- Perchance even scream: But at the very nub Of a possible death to the dream of some Is why we suffer at this mortal toil. Let us pause. There's the respect That is the balm to a long writing life. For who would bear the ups and downs of time, Th' reviewer's wrong and downright contumely, The pangs of edited work, the pub delay, The insolence of the press, and its spurns Showing patient merit worthy of a saint, When he or she might quiet exit take To make a living?  Who would deadlines bear, To grunt and sweat a solitary life, But that the dread of giving no more breadth To all those undiscovered thoughts that churn Our traveling minds, and puzzle our will, Would make us far more ill by half Than denying readers what they know not of? Dedication makes writers of us all, And a simpler life of remuneration Is sacrificed to one of words and thought. Any enterprise giving pitch and moment To our words, even if currently awry, We can’t lose in the name of no action.   So now fair Colleagues, bring on opinions That our blog be long remembered. —Jeff
Caro Ramsay
We had a few days in Toronto recovering from Bouchercon.  Toronto is very proud of many things, including Yonge Street, Toronto (pronounced ‘Young’ and ‘Trono’  which was the longest street in the world for many years until 1999. It is  86km long. It was  formerly part of Highway 11 as well as being the main street in Toronto,  created  initially for for military purposes, it is very straight and true.  In  some of its history, it has had suffered 'trouble with bears'. Unspecified.... So now onto wee bits of water, and some really big bits of water. The rainbow over some very big and famous waterfalls. 2500 cubic metres of water every second.  I think that is slightly less than the water that  was pouring through the leak we had in the ceiling of the practice earlier in the year. On a bicycle built for two.  that would be a tandem then. Stronger together, and that  is a name of the anti independence movement over here. I was very sick with vertigo when I was up there, it was too far to go.  (See what  I did there). Vertical travel  confuses the human ear, we are not built for it. And as I was last in the I was right at the doors. The glass doors. Arghhh. But  I did like seeing the sharks on the roof of the aquarium from up there.  Here is a Toronto ( pronounced Trono ) bus stop. Did  you spot the cat? Berczy Park, Trono, has been renamed, informally- Barksy Park due to this lovely fountain. I want one in my garden. The massive two tier structure boasts statues of twenty seven different dogs. And one cat that sits on the rim of the lowest pond. The cat had to be included due to massive protests at the fountain being dog only.  The cat on the roof of the bus stop was added  afterwards, just to even the score up a bit. You  can see the cat sitting on the wall of the fountain here, minding his own business but thinking of causing trouble that the pugs will get the blame for. Open for dogs to drink and swim from, its proven popular with the roughly 2,000 dogs that visit the park each day, but skateboarders have been banned after the Golden Retriever statue suffered a damaged paw before the grand opening. There are 240 000 dogs in Trono, and many  of them are proper dogs ( ie a dog that  does not fit into a handbag). A Bernese? Slim Russian Terrier? Tall Airedale? English bull terrier- at least  you always know where this one is. They are reputed to be the most stupid and obstinate of all dog breeds.  I wonder if they are actually in charge of the Brexit negotiations.   I wonder if they  could do better. All dogs are focused on that  golden bone at he top of the fountain. It's a lovely park, surrounded by traffic on all four sides. A nearby statue. The Trono flat iron which they  say  is older then the NY version but only by a  few years. The next we were here. Looking at this. And thinking about superman! Caro Ramsay