Monday, September 18, 2006

Only myself to blame

Hooray! My short story, Natural Causes, is in the new edition of Spinetingler. If you haven't heard of this wondrous publication, shame on you. No, really, shame. Stop reading this gibberish, click on the link and head over for some real entertainment.

There is also a little article right at the back about the DevilDog website. More publicity, hooray and double hooray! Except that until recently the DevilDog website has been in a state of suspended animation.

Now it's not as if I didn't know what was coming, though in my defence I can say it didn't know quite when. Revamping the DevilDog site has been on my to-do list for a long time, but since it is little more than a labour of love, it has always been put to one side in favour of those things that are a labour of cash. When Sandra said she wanted to put a website review in Spinetingler, I thought at first she was joking. But Sandra doesn't joke about such things. So I had to dust off my old code and css skills and fix the damn thing.

Well, I say had to. What I really mean is meant to.

Last Friday, at around seven O'clock, I switched off my computer after a day of making things look pretty in Microsoft Access. It's one of those labour of cash things I was going on about, and though dull, it pays well. A quick check of my email, mostly to delete all the spam offering me hot stock tips and penis enlargement products, and the shiny screen of death went blank. I wasn't intending being away from the keyboard all weekend, but that's how it ended up.

Saturday's job was borrowing a quad bike and trailer, taking them up to our neighbours about a mile away, filling the trailer with very nice, well rotted horse manure, bringing it back and spreading it over the garden where the privet hedge used to be. Then I borrowed the ancient two-stroke engine-powered cultivator from the farm and fought with it for an hour trying to get the shit mixed with the soil, so to speak, and by and large succeeding.

Yesterday was a day for tidying up in the garden. The great potato experiment came to an end with mixed results - slugs are very fond of Sante and Ambo potatoes, less so of Desirees. Charlottes grow very large if not picked early, and smell very bad when they start to rot underground. All in all, yield is not enormous, but certainly more than sufficient for our needs. Phase two of the experiment will be to see if we can get some of the Charlottes and some of the Desirees to grow in buckets in the polytunnel in time for Christmas. Yum.

Sunday also saw the Planting of the Apple Trees. Two of them, a Cox's Orange Pippin and a James Grieve (which is a universal pollinator). We've had them in pots for a few years now, and they've never produced much. This year we thought we'd get a good harvest - a couple of months ago each tree had at least twenty small apples on it. But along came the wind and the trees fell over. When we picked them up again, the apples stayed on the ground. Bah.

So it was decided to plant them where once there had been a hedge. We're going to get some cherry trees to go in there, too. Moving over to fruit production, oh yes.

It took me an hour to dig the two holes, each about two foot deep by the same in diameter. The first ten inches were easy,* but after that it was a case of rock hard clay packed tight with stones. I just hope the apples trees are happy spreading their roots outwards - nothing goes down far around here.**

All of which hard labour meant that I didn't sit down at my computer until quite late last night, after soaking in a long hot bath and reading Lynn Viehl's fourth Stardoc novel, Shockball. It was with some small surprise that I discovered in my absence that Spinetingler had come out and over four thousand people had downloaded it. As kicks up the arse go, this was quite galvanising. Last night was a flurry of code wrangling, style checking and general malarky as I tried to wrestle some kind of sense into the DevilDog site.

The results are there for all to see. It's just a pity I forgot to put a link in the article.

* as the actress said to the Bishop.
** ditto.


Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

I suppose you'd better get used to fame, James.

We should all be so fortunate as to disappear for the weekend and come back to discover over 4000 copies of our book have been sold, for example. Wouldn't that be nice?

When you're writing McLean in novels and selling as well as Mr. Rankin, this will become normal for you.

September 18, 2006 6:16 pm  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

Oh, and James? I don't joke about anything.

I had to take the sense of humour back to WalMart. It was a cheap knock-off and never worked properly.

September 19, 2006 3:25 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Ah, Sandra. You may think that you never joke, but I've got the tapes.

And what else would you expect from WalMart but a cheap knock-off. For a bespoke sense of humour you need to go to a more upmarket boutique.

Oh yes, and when I'm selling as well as Mr Rankin, I won't care;}#

September 19, 2006 10:14 pm  

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