Slightly less nutty this year….

So if any one ever looks at the alternative pages on here, you’ll see that last November I went a bit overboard on challenging myself to do stuff.

This year I’ve been slightly less insane.

I’ve been attempting to keep up with photo challenges every month this year with varying degrees of success from complete months to forgotten months, but I’m still going, and will hopefully manage a full month this month to post here.

I’m also signing on for NaBloPoMo again, as this place has been a tad neglected of late and with the upcoming winter months mean spending more tone indoors, writing will be a good way to spend that time, which means getting back into the swing of things.

Talking of writing, I will be giving NaNoWriMo a miss this year. There’s a lot of upheaval at work at the moment and I’m just coming out of one of deepest down phases in a while so I think this would be just one step too many at the moment. Hopefully when Camp NaNoWriMo cones round in the new year I’ll be more focused and in the mood to give it a go.

For now, these are the photo challenges I will be mixing and matching from for this month’s photo a day challenge.

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If you’re not following me on Instagram (search JoKawasaki) It’s usual for me to post all of my challenge photographs over on my blog The Day Watch, only for the purposes of my Nutty November challenges I will be duplicate posting them here.

As for the NaBloPoMo posts?

Well let’s see how that turns out shall we.

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That was the month that was

In which I read some books, watched some TV and generally avoided the interchoobs.

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I didn’t read as much as I wanted this month mainly because I discovered this TV show called Lost Girl, and I decided to marathon my way through seasons one to three.

I did however have a bit of a back catalogue catch up, with One Last Breath, The Dead Place and Scared to Live by Stephen Booth. I had a bit of a giggle with Something Borrowed by Paul Magrs and Mrs Fry’s Diary by Mrs Stephen Fry. I fed need for generic pap with Tick Tock, and Second Honeymoon by a couple of James Patterson’s herd of writers, and I gave myself a thrill with Stay Close by Harlan Coben and The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton.

Goodbye Sheldon….

Also known as workhorse number three.

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In the last 11 years I have owned 9 Renault vehicles. Of those some have been bought for the sheer enjoyment of owning a real drivers car. Others because I have needed cheap(ish) and highly reliable transport due to a daily 106 mile round trip commute.

I’ve loved every one of them, whether cheap and cheerful, or fast and fun,  every single one has left its mark.  None more so than those I have called my ‘workhorses,’ those cars I have run too and from work, and known well for every single mile.

In 2004 I bought Dizzy, who in 2 years 11 months never once faltered in the 70,697 miles I drove her.

Then, in 2007, came Maggie. Maggie gave me a 3 year 3 week stint, and another faultless 65,000+ mile service before she went back to the ‘shelter’ and I picked up Sheldon.

Sheldon is 2 years, 11 months & 1 week old. He’s been a typical male, with a couple of ‘man flu’ issues, like my £800 bill to fix the air conditioning at 6 months old, which was fortunately reduced to £130 after many arguments with Renault. Then there’s the fact that Sheldon was a ‘tweaked by RenaultSport’ version, as opposed to a ‘standard’ version, at every turn he’s cost me a fortune in the usual consumables, even down to tyres which, had I chosen to replace with the same factory fit versions, cost £160 each.

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Aside from all that though, he’s been the best car I’ve owned for a long time. With the previous two I changed them when they genuinely felt ‘worn out,’ like they’d given me enough service and it was time to retire, so some granny could abuse their clutches, and pootle them round town at 12 miles an hour. Sheldon still wants to give me his best. He’s still going at it like he’s had enough speed to last a lifetime and I’m a little sad. I didn’t really want to change my car right now. It’s not the best of times, and I love the damn thing to bits, but the man flu is back.

The MOT is due in 9 days time. The FIRST one. I’ve owned enough cars from new to know that any car should sail through its first MOT. Sadly Sheldon is going to cost me £500+ to do that. Thanks to a £370+ bill just to fix the windscreen wipers, which gave up the ghost last week just as the weather changed, and the rain hit, rendering my car undriveable. It was time for Sheldon to go, even though I didn’t want to change yet, but after 74,965 miles of faithful service a replacement has had, sadly and reluctantly, to be sourced.

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With a tear in my eye at saying goodbye, Workhorse number 4 arrived today with just 6 miles under his/her belt, and no, I don’t have a name yet, that will come when I’ve worked out his/her personality, because all cars have one. Just go and watch Herbie The Love Bug, if you don’t believe me.

Now is the turn of workhorse number 4, he/she who is yet to be named….

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Just because you can read….

it doesn’t mean you can write, but it doesn’t mean I can’t dream either.

There is a question I am being asked more and more frequently of late, to the point where even my own mother has got in on the act.

“When are you going to write your / Why don’t you write a book”

It stems from my love of books, and all things bookish, my years of attending book festivals, and my friends who either write themselves or are somehow ‘in the industry’. You’ve seen from my posts here I get through an awful lot of books, I’m already up to 64 for the year, and I really enjoy the escapism that comes from losing yourself when reading.

But, am I a writer?

My reviews don’t always suggest so. I know what I like and what I don’t, and if you sit across a table from me I will argue the salient points behind my belief with gusto, but can I get them over to you in a blog post? I’d say not, but If I read the reviews of books I’ve read in broadsheets, or specialist book blogging websites, they often put my offerings to shame, but at the same time, I’m not interested in having the synopsis of a book regurgitated to me, I change my mind, as let’s face it, the review never makes you read a book. Those damn author written taglines on the front cover will though.

When I look at other things I’ve written, on older, now defunct blogs I see something, even if I’m not sure what that something is, that points in another direction.

My desire to write is also hampered by something else. I’m a major league procrastinator, hence this blog. I am always avoiding doing anything that actually needs to be done. Maybe it’s laziness, maybe it’s just being afraid of putting in a lot of hard work for rejection, maybe it’s a fear of failing. I’d say all of the above, but I’ve failed at a lot of things in life and have picked myself up, dusted myself down, and moved forward on a regular basis.

In the time it has taken me to write this post, in my head, I’ve gone from feeling strong for being able to admit a lack of ability to feeling like I”m just making more excuses not to try.

I can read.
I love to read.
I would love to be a writer
but do I lock the ability to write?
Most days I say yes, although in all honesty, I have no idea, but since I can dream, I figure there’s hope for me yet…

Positive thinking

Everyone is always saying that I need to concentrate on looking forward to the good things that are going to happen instead of worrying about the bad that may never happen.

It’s a good piece of advice and one I must admit to following a long time ago, and sadly letting lapse somewhat with the problems of recent years. If I’m honest my problems at present are no where near as massive as they were, but in the aftermath are harder to overcome because I am not used to dealing with the ‘little stuff’, and because a lot of the coping mechanisms I used before the stress seem to have been long forgotten.

So I’m going back to an age old method. Way back when, whenever I was looking forward to something I had a little Excel spreadsheet on my computer that would calculate the number of days I had to wait until the ‘next’ thing I was looking forward to would arrive. Now in the days of Smartphones, it’s much easier, so today I installed an app on my phone to remind me in the dark days of the good days ahead.

So far, so good.

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Now just to plan something a little further ahead….

Books of 2012 – The Final Tally

I finished the year with a not insubstantial total of 124 books read, and in no particular order here are my top ten books from that list.

Birthdays for the Dead by Stuart MacBride

666 Charing Cross Road by Paul Magrs

Bryant and May investigate The Victoria Vanished by Christopher Fowler

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Halfhead by Stuart MacBride

Taken by Robert Crais

Rush of Blood by Mark Billingham

The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo

Let’s start all over again in the morning shall we?