Physical work as distraction therapy

So, that’s it.  The Angel Bug has been sent out to a number of readers for a read-through by fresh eyes, as both my proofreader and I have read it so often we can’t see what is there, what was there and what isn’t there anymore – editing can throw up errors you, yourself, just can’t see.

Now, some of these readers know my style of writing and like it, and some have not read any of my novels before, but are avid readers, and then there’s one in the USA.

The latter because in The Angel Bug one half of the story is told from the view point of an American, and at times he also interacts with other Americans in the USA. Now, I have tried to make sure that he thinks and talks in the right slang and idiom for an American, but what do I know? I’m UK born and bred! Anything ‘off-note’ however, should jump out at a bona fide American and then I should be able to remedy the problem before The Angel Bug is published.

Here’s a conundrum for you …

UK = ‘This is a herbal mixture’  USA = ‘This is an herbal mixture’ (said ‘This is an ‘erbal mixture’  the American using the original pronunciation of herbal – hence the required ‘an’ as indefinite article.)

So, how would you render this in a book that, hopefully, will be read both sides of the Atlantic? 

My solution – ‘an herbal’ when the words are in the mouth of an American, ‘a herbal’ when in the mouth of a Brit.  I’m hoping that this will make ultimate sense as it is read.

Now, I am sure you are thinking that you have read traditionally published books written by either Americans putting words into the mouths of Brits ( or visa versa), and they have been wrong, wrong, WRONG!  Or situations – like the ‘muffin shop’ in a Dartmoor village selling blueberry muffins, ( back at a time before the UK had heard of muffins that were made of cake  –  and not the traditional English Muffin – bread,  let alone had whole shops for them) – which particularly sticks in my mind along with the ‘Chalk pits on Dartmoor’ that the  American author also had. (They are  actually China clay)

However, any serious indie published novelist will have realised from reading the blogs on writing, publishing and reviews, readers are frequently far more critical of indie published works than they are of traditionally published works, and as a book can be bought via the internet anywhere in the world …  you ‘d better get that world and its use of language right.

Unfortunately, it is the self-publishing writers who slap their books up without even proofreading them that has brought this hyper-critical gaze to indie published works. Simple fact – no matter how good you are at spelling, grammar and use of the English language – you cannot proofread your own work. Your mind will always read what it expects to read. Hence those great but tricksy ‘can you read this’ lines that get sent around the internet with letters missed or replaced by numbers looking a bit like the letters .. and yes! You can still read it!   S1M1L4RLY,   Y0UR M1ND   15   R34D1NG   7H15   4U70M471C4LLY   W17H0U7   3V3N   7H1NK1NG   4B0U7   17.

So, why the title of today’s blog?  Physical work as distraction therapy.

Well, sending out your novel to new readers is a bit like sending your first child off to school for the first time…. a bit nerve wracking. So I find distraction and pleasure in physical work instead. (Strangely, housework is no good for this therapy – well, that’s my excuse!)

In this case making some beautiful reclaimed slate coasters, out of Delabole roofing slates that may have been on a roof for two hundred years or so … and now are transformed by cutting, filing and, the amazingly revelatory, rubbing down with wet and dry paper – that shows what time and the mineral content of the slate have made of it. Each one different. Each one attractive in its own way. Love them 🙂 Do click on the picture to see them better!

These are going to the St Dominick Craft Fair – I can’t sell them from my slate-ware website as they vary so much I’d have to photograph and put up a special box for each one!

And while I worked I did not think of  The Angel Bug, all alone, out there … but I did allow my mind to wander and to wonder, what next? To listen for the voice of my next narrator ….


Have you any favourite howlers from traditionally published novels?

How do you take your mind off things?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you … it takes my mind of things 🙂


Don’t let Google’s ‘Shopping’ fool you in the future!

What do you do when looking for a particular type of item – one you might not find easily in your local town? Do you put the item in the search on Google and get every listing that mentions it (or even something like it) or do you get to the items quicker by clicking the ‘Shopping’ button on the top bar and have only the relevant items shown – which you can then sort by button for price or relevance and whether it has free shipping or not?

For instance if you go into Google now and search for  ‘Slate Plates’, then click ‘Shopping’ on the top bar and, when those listings come up, tick the box at the side for ‘Free Shipping’ – annmade slate plates figure pretty high, if not top. This is because they are the best value quality slate plates out there with free shipping – and that is their natural or organic search listing.

After the Google’s new system comes into place in February the same search will not feature annmade slate plates at all – because as a small business I cannot afford to pay for inclusion in this listing.

And this from a company that said ‘paid inclusion listing’ was evil!

The ‘previously’ savvy shopper who ignored the Ad-Words because they knew they were paid for, and short-cut the trawl through the general listings by using the ‘shopping’ button, will now be presented with, what is in effect, a whole bunch of Adverts. The question is – how long before they realise.

The rules that govern ‘paid-for-inclusion-listings’ are not the same as those for adverts – they don’t have to explicitly state that these are adverts!

More – Google have quietly been slipping ‘Shopping results’ in the line of the general listings. Well, these were general listings and so that was fair enough. They are getting us used to clicking on these and expecting them to just be relevant natural or organic listings – however, in the future they will be the ‘paid inclusion listings’ masquerading as organic listings.

Google once claimed that ‘paid for inclusion listings were evil’. Now that it is answerable to shareholders it dances to a different tune – ‘make money, make money, make money’ – regardless of fairness, equality or Google’s own original aims and values.

Ok, Ok — I have a vested interest. I am a small-business owner – and it is the internet that has enabled my small business to reach all corners of the UK with my products – never mind just the UK – I have sold my slate ware to Australia, America and many EU countries too. Without the internet annmade slate ware would not have sold anywhere outside Devon and Cornwall.

It is the same for so many other small businesses – often niche, interesting, craftsman based businesses. The internet has allowed these businesses to flourish because people out there want these items and because of the internet they could find them easily. OK, so they will still be there – but much harder to find.

And this comes on top of Facebook’s new policy of not sending postings from pages you have deliberately liked, to you – instead encouraging the page holders to pay to promote their post to their followers – again hitting the little people hardest. (If you want to help the little-folk whose pages you have ‘liked’ then, if y0u actually get a FB posting from one of them, share or comment or at least like the post, as then FB’s algorithm sends it to a few more people on the list.)

It is a sad day for you the customer though, when your choice is curtailed by one of the very exponents of ‘free internet’ and a sad day too for all new entrepreneurs and people with an idea for a business that needs to serve a wide area to thrive.

We shall all be poorer – and I don’t just mean financially.

How do you feel about this? Does it feel like Big Business is trying to be the ONLY business out there? Is Google turning sour? I love to hear from you – do share your thoughts!

more information on what and how Google will try to fool you into thinking that these ‘Paid for Inclusion lisitngs’ are not Adverts but organic listings.


Time for a Slate Clock and this week’s FWT? results

A few weeks ago I realised that one topic I had not blogged about specifically was slate-craft!  Which is strange, as it is an activity I do A LOT !

Most of you will know that this blog is also linked to the website (and to the Facebook page of the same name).  Now I write whenever I can, but creating handcrafted slate-ware is my ‘day job’.   It’s a small business that I have built up from nothing over the past 5 years and AnnMade slate-ware has a good name amongst top chefs and restaurateurs as well as individuals from all over the UK and even as far afield as the USA, Holland, Eire and Australia.

My carefully hand polished and food-safe olive-oil conditioned Slate Plates were specifically asked for by Michelin starred Chef Richard Corrigan for his show on Channel 4, ‘Cookery School’, and they have been used multiple times on The Great British Menu, both in the heats and at a banquet. These and specialist shaped or sized bespoke slate cheeseboards or plates have been made for many chefs and hotels including Marcus Waverly at the Berkley. You may have guessed, I’m quite proud of my little business.

However, I also make a lot of other products for both home and garden, some of which are one-off items, sometimes made from reclaimed slates from Cornwall, notably the famous Delabole slate. This slate weathers well and after a couple of hundred years shows beautiful patterns and markings caused by inclusions of minerals like iron pyrites (fools gold)

While I was busy making a new slate ‘natural sun’ clock using a piece of reclaimed Delabole I decided to take photos as I went along to show you the process and get at least one specific blog into that topic!

Now ‘natural sun’ is just my name for this particular design that I created, where the hours are marked by slots in the slate creating a sun-ray effect to the edge, and each one is unique as each slate is different.

Hope you found this guide to making this type of slate clock interesting.  And talking of time – there is still just time to enter my great Draw to Win a Kindle (or 1 of 4 other prizes) Just click on the link to get all the details, and if you have already signed up make sure you tell everyone you know about it, so they can have a chance too. Only 147 places left!

Finally, for my great cheerleaders who are encouraging me in my quest to lose weight through resistance weights exercises carried out at home and taking less than 15 mins a day (want to know more? click here) .. the results for this week are in. Now you will recall that last week I lost 2 pounds (and was very pleasantly surprised at this stage) well, this week there was no change on the weight front. So still at 10st 1 lb and still tantalisingly close to that 10st goal!  However, the inches moved a little – both measurements, relaxed and pulled in tight were down a quarter of an inch. Considering that the pulled in tight measurement didn’t move last week I am happy with this.

What do you think of the process of making this design of clock?  Do you work in a similar craft?  I just love to hear from you folks!




Fat Woman Thinning? – with links to weights exercises

Welcome to week 5 of my fat woman thinning? blog – if you are new to this you need to know that I first just kept this as a log on the pages – to motivate myself and so my ‘cheerleaders’ that is my sons, could see how I was getting on.Then a few weeks ago I got brave enough to post it all as a blog – join me on the journey – join me as a cheerleader – I love to hear from you – please do post a comment or a question.

I had to do something, menopause seemed to have changed the way my body dealt with things – my usual way of maintaining my weight no longer worked and the weight crept on… and on. So, now I am using resistance weights as well as some aerobic and stretching, and watching what I eat (writing everything down as well) – but Not Dieting!

Also, I don’t go to a gym.  I don’t have time to spend getting there, nor the inclination to flaunt my lumpy body in front of others, so I have worked out what I can do at home and it doesn’t take long – the weights never more than 15 mins and the aerobics and stretching is worked to follow a strict half hour of music. So, where have I got to, where has it got me – lets see . . . . .

29/1 – week 5 of 52 week blog

Another Sunday, another weigh and measure session. Well, have to say I was both delighted and surprised. A 2lb drop in weight and a reduction in measurement (belly-button height and level) So that’s 11st 5lbs (72.2 kg or 156 lbs) and relaxed waist of 42 inches (108 cm ) – that’s a half inch smaller, and pulled in a measurement of 40.5 inches (103 cm) but the weird thing is, as I pull the muscles of my stomach in now the belly button rises up my body (as it were) meaning that the level measurement rises up the worst bulge on the top of my hips a bit – so this is a whole inch down of last week

Notes: for 29th

Have a look at this page for instructions and a small video for Lateral Raises  And on these pages for Triceps extensions  Which I prefer to do or  if you prefer to be stading

Notes: for 30th

Instructions and video link for Snatch is here  but like I say I use just one 10kg plate – and hold it with both hands on the rim – lifting it from rim resting on floor to high – as if I was trying to hang it on a peg at full arm stretch for me. As always bending the knees and keeping the back straight.

The sit-ups I am sure you are familiar with but here they are anyway:  No I don’t have the fancy bench for this either – and I don’t like the way the guy in the video has linked his fingers behind his neck – this could result in you pulling your neck especially when it gets tough. It is better to rest your fingers against the side of your neck just below the ears (When you get to this stage – for the first week  the only way I could get a sit-up going was to throw my arms forward towards my knees to get the momentum to even lift off the floor!!)

Notes: for 31st

Squats I do with the ‘safety net’ of a computer chair set to the lowest setting – which means that if I sat on it at that level my knees are slightly higher than my hips – I do the squats so that my bottom just touches the edge of the chair – it tells me I have sunk low enough and stops me feeling that I might fall over backwards! I use 2 dumbells, propped on a towel over my shoulders rather than a bar and weights. See the instructions and small video for Squats here

I do Lunges standing on an old duvet. I had the irrational fear that I might hurt my knee as it went down, and this reassured me.  As I lunge across the width of the duvet, and being 5′ 3″ I have a smallish stride, it also find it gives me an ‘aim’ for my step forward part of the lunge. If my back foot in just inside one edge then my front foot just stays on the duvet – this gives a ‘stride’ of 3ft 9inches (1m14cm) from toe of front foot to heel of back foot, which is a decent stride for a shorty! Lunge instructions and video here:

Notes: for 1st Feb

Exercises for today may be found at these sites. I prefer to do the triceps extensions in the lying down mode (doesn’t hurt my elbow or shoulder this way)

Second set of photographs to be taken today – still not put them up on the site – working out how they can be kept from filtering out onto the general internet. What I notice, however, is that there appears to be more folds and sagging as the tightness begins to leave certain parts of my body. I hope my skin has retained some of its elasticity from before and can return to fitting the new me I hope to find by the end of these 52 weeks.

Notes: for 2nd

Here are the exercises for Thursday – I do the bicep curls using both arms at the same time and the ‘rotation’ of the arm from side on to flat on works more muscles.

And this is the wrist curl, which is good for buildin gup strength for climbing ( so I am told) and as I want to learn a bit of climbing this shoud be useful.   I also do these simultaneously.

Notes: for 3rd

Here are the exercises for today; As I have said previously i use just one ‘plate’ weight of 10 kg for the snatch an lift it from floor to high, as if trying to place on a hook in front of me as high a I can reach

Snatch :

Twist-sit-ups :

Notes: for 4th

Here are the links to these exercises, the squats was shown once already but it’s here anyway :

And the step-ups I am stepping 10 inch step and was taking far too long (over 100 steps) to get to fail point – so this time I tried to carry extra weights. Here is the exercise link:

Well, what will tomorrow bring – weigh-in and measure time!!

Full details are on the drop down pages from the Fat Woman Thinning? header on the crossbar.

Your comments or questions are very welcome, I really want to hear from you, and if you ‘d like to know what I do that makes me too busy to travel to a gym then take a look at where you will also find my Novels:  Nothing Ever Happens Here, Divining the Line, and Some Kind of Synchrony .. click here to read the first 3 chapters in pdf.



Where I’ll publish my ebooks

I have to get someone else to do my proof reading, even if I still have the task of doing all the corrections, so that when the books do go online there won’t be so many gaffs on the page.

I’m lucky in that I can put my books on my own website,, which usually sells my popular range of slate ware. This business is in its fourth year and has been steadily growing. The books will go under a new tab, annmade books – I think it sounds like a publishing house already!!


Welcome to my Blog

I decided it was about time I started a blog… after all I’ve been writing one in my head for ages.

I didn’t realise how tricky finding a title for my blog was going to be, I considered many pithy and wise sounding names, only to find others had the same idea before me. I considered a list, ‘my blog on writing novels, keeping chickens and goats, sand sculpting, body-boarding, slate-ware, belly-dancing , cake-decorating, poetry and life….’ Too long winded I thought, but that’s what its going to be about. My life and my passions within in it…. so welcome to

Ann Foweraker – Publishing my novels and other Passions


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