Author Archives: Eric Tomlinson

Writing Narnia in the Modern World

Last night I was reading CS Lewis The Silver Chair to my Grandkids, (boys, 5 and 8).

schair

I reached the point where the children were in Harfang the Castle of the Gentle Giants, when they found out they’d just eaten a talking stag. I came to the line:

But Puddleglum who was Narnian born, was sick and felt as you or I would feel if you found out you’d eaten a baby.

I did hesitate and wonder if I should edit as I read.

I know it’s a book from a different era (1953), when the war was fresh in peoples’ minds.  It’s also a series I’ve read at least a dozen times over the years.

As my current project is a retro, Narnia style book I’ve been conscious that some of the scenes are battles, with swords and the injuries they can inflict (no lost heads). I’m not sure how well these scenes will be received by modern parents, but I have stuck to keeping the “retro” style.

I would be interested to know what other people felt. If they think this is too strong?

PS: I read it

Word counting and gap between words

A few years ago I wrote a script to try to detect “errors” in my writing. I offer no warranty that it won’t destroy your document, but if its of use, please try it. I make some apology for the quality of the programming, but it kind of grew functionality as it grew.

Best use: run the script and scroll to the bottom of the new document. Work up from the bottom and correct the occurrences  until you reach the common words. then scan the words to check for the most used non-common words and fix them.

Installation: Create an empty macro called wordcount. Open the editor and replace the entire script with the following.

Script below (Should open in a new window):

wordcount

 

You see a sandcastle …

I see the river realm of Aquaterran.

sandcastleOn the beach with my grandson last week we built a sandcastle and added the mandatory turret on the top. We moved on to the moat and the stream needed to fill it from the encroaching tide.

To give our masterpiece a little longer, we threw up a shield wall and a couple of extra deep lakes.

At this point the writer cut in and as we worked, the landscape at my feet took on life. The exiled princess was trapped, waiting for her army to catch up. The wicked magician high in his turret held her people under an enchantment. Only the princess held the key to release them and she was lost in the wilderness.

My grandson hadn’t a clue this was happening. To him, I’d merely stopped digging. He thought Granddad was being lazy and not pulling his weight. Maybe that’s true as well.

What came first, the day dreams or the fantasy? Judging by the comments of family and friends I think the daydreams have always been there.

Will the story ever see the light of day? Possibly, after all the others queued up waiting to be committed to the computer.

Getting a dog to take a tablet

We’ve two little Shih Tzu dogs, Milly an Molly.

00-dogs

Now they’re getting older, they need to take more tablets, but as they’ve aged they’ve got smarter. A while back, a piece of cheese or ham was sufficient to disguise the tablet. They’d take it without trouble. Now, they’ll eat cheese all day long, but the tablet will always be spat out onto the floor. They even look smug when they do it!

I trawled the internet looking for suggestions and they all seem to give the same advice … disguise it in food.

I eventually found this video.

Perfect dog taking a tablet

His ideas are almost there, but have you ever seen a better behaved dog? He pops the tablet in and the dog is already swallowing the thing!

As our vet said, the trouble with Shih Tzu’s is they have a short snout and a lot of tongue inside. The chances of forcing a pill in are really quite slim. So I’ve modified the suggestions and combined the ideas to make the perfect dog tablet bomb!

Make a Tablet Bomb:

01-knife

I think this is a fish knife, but it is slim and sharp.

02-saus

A decent sized hotdog sausage makes six bombs. I need to use six, three pieces for each dog, A taster, the bomb and the treat. Even if its only one dog needs the tablet, they both get the same to stop them getting suspicious.

03-butt

Peanut butter! I tried it on its own, but that didn’t work. We ended up with it every where and they still managed to get the tablet out. However …

04-cut

Slice the sausage into suitable sized pieces

05-hollow

Hollow out each piece (they all need to be done!)

06-hide

Hide the tablet inside one (and keep a note which one has it.)

07-fill

And seal them all using the peanut butter!

By the time they realise there is a tablet in there, the peanut butter has it stuck to the roof of their mouth. Plus the temptation of the third piece waiting is irresistible.  They swallow the tablet and beg for more.

Two months on and I’ve not had a problem with this method.

Hope it helps!

 

Standing up to back pain

I’ve been a back pain sufferer for almost as long as I can remember. If I let up on my regime of exercise I can guarantee I will only manage a few days before I regret it.

I tried using an exercise ball as a chair, but in honesty it didn’t seem to help much and it took over my small office. When it had a run-in with my seven year old grandson and a letter opener I decided not to replace it.

There was an article in the press recently about how people benefit from standing for a period each day. Not that easy when you spend 99% of the day at a keyboard. Undeterred and feeling I wanted to try it, I searched the internet for various devices. There are hugely expensive electric desks that will rise and lower. I could have used a pile of books and boxes, but with my wife’s new minimalist approach to clutter that wouldn’t last. Ikea claim to have a full range of office equipment to suit, but as their website requires time to load and I have the patience of a bear with a burr in his fur, I gave up on them.

desk

There are items similar to this on Amazon, but as a sucker for a good promo video I opted for a slightly more expensive one from Backpain.com. The booklet that comes with it shows people using their computer, sitting, lying, kneeling and standing. It all looks quite exhausting!

In truth, I doubt I will ever know if this is helping, because as I said earlier, if I’m diligent with my exercises, I can go for months without a twinge. What I can say is that for the last few mornings I’ve woken up feeling as if I’ve slightly overdone the sit ups. (Overdone as in done some!)

It’s supposed to burn 25- 50% more calories (than what isn’t stated) therefore, I can allow myself a few more thought-inspiring nibbles. Which, as I am currently working on the kitchen table are all too easy to succumb to.

 

Ramblings of a dog walker – 18th January 2015

You can tell a badly trained dog by the way the owner talks to them. Not only are they dancing around my dogs, desperate to stick a cold nose where mine don’t want a cold nose, but they are called back with such meaningless words as ‘Danny! Come here this instant, what have I told you …’

Dogs don’t remember what you told them. They want to sniff butts and if you can’t call them back, they should be on a lead.

I confess to being a bit grumpy. We are living close to Blackpool and the locals have to be the worst dog owners on the planet. Some kick the dog out of the car door and let it run on the field while they stay in the car with the engine running and read their paper. Others form into groups chatting whilst the dogs crap all over the place.

When I asked somebody why nobody cleans up the crap, I just got a blank look and a shrug. ‘We don’t do that round here.’

 

A year and a half later

I’m finally starting to get my head above water. Book two of Amara (Amara’s Legacy) is entering its final stage.

The first in a new series of children’s books is also brewing. I’m still working towards a title for this, but it is well past first draft stage. Its exciting as I’ve always been a lover of the Narnia books and I see this as my take on the ‘Spirituality for kids’ thing.

I’m hoping to get out and about, maybe do a few guest blog spots to reawaken by marketing self.

Of course this is dependent upon finishing the edits!