Tag Archives: Box 010

Box 010: Number 5, Jean Gill

Hello and welcome to Box 010; a bit of light whimsy which is, in no way, inspired by the popular BBC programme Room 101. Here’s now it works. Every two weeks, my special guest will pop in and then present us with five things they would like to see consigned to the dustbin of existence. This week’s special guest is Jean Gill. She writes… well, pretty much anything but she has asked me to feature Someone to Look Up To’ a story about a Pyrenean mountain dog, in search of his perfect human.

You can find Jean’s Amazon author page here or you can visit her blog here.

Hello Jean.

Hello.

I’ve just been reading up on Someone To Look Up To and and it sounds great, I love the tagline, ‘one day his human will come’. There is more about the book at the bottom of the page but before that, Jean is going to try and persuade us to vote all of her pet hates into Box 010. So, off we go, first of all, please can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Yes, I can. I’m a Welsh writer and photographer living in the south of France with a big white dog, a big black dog, a Nikon D700 and a man. For many years, I taught English in Wales and was the first woman to be a secondary headteacher in Carmarthenshire. I am mother or stepmother to five children.

Publications are varied, including prize-winning poetry and novels, military history, translated books on dog training, and a cookery book on goat cheese. With Scottish parents, an English birthplace and French residence, she can usually support the winning team on most sporting occasions.

As someone with similarly multicultural origins it is nice, isn’t it, to be able to not care which of the teams you’re watching loses in the six nations. So, let’s discover what items you’d like to see thrown into the rubbish compactor of existence. What is the first item you’d like to put in to Box 010?

Individually wrapped teabags: I live in France and respect for tea here means that it’s very difficult to find teabags that are not individually packaged in small, decorated paper envelopes. Why?! Let’s not waste time recycling package material that didn’t need to be used in the first place!

I’m with you, good choice. I just loathe anything which is that hard to unwrap with my morning brain on. Please tell us what you’d like to hurl into Box 010 next.

Ticks: I’m all for diversity of species, and I understand the danger of the butterfly effect, but we manage without dinosaurs, don’t we? I’d happily eliminate this species. If you’re a ‘Twilight’ fan and not revolted by the mere words ‘blood-sucking parasites’, just look up Lyme Disease and piroplasmosis, two of the diseases that ticks carry.

Ugh, no… I agree, I see no biological function for ticks, other than to kill people, rather nastily. Onwards and upwards, what’s the third item you would like to lob into Box 010, never to be seen again.

Babies’ dummies (pacifiers). They are a filthy, artificial way of shutting up babies, who would otherwise quickly learn to use a thumb or their fingers as comfort-sucks. Dummies cause work for the parent (cleaning and fetching, like a well-trained dog) and take away the baby’s independence, often well into childhood.

Hmm interesting. I bet that one will ruffle a few feathers. Mwa ha ha ha hargh. Righty-o, let’s hear about your fourth item is.

Dog-owners with no control over their off-lead dogs: This means 99% of dog-owners whose dogs are off-lead and who don’t attach them when they see potential hazards, especially other dogs on-lead.  Can you imagine trying to care for a dog recovering from a double ligament operation and when you’re carefully walking him, someone else’s bouncy labrador  jumps all over him and damages the leg again?

The ‘Yellow Dog project’ http://theyellowdogproject.com is an international initiative to protect people and dogs from each other. If a dog is wearing yellow, it needs space, perhaps after injury or during re-education. There is no reason why dogs on leads should have to put up with other dogs’ or people’s bad behaviour.

Some food for thought there, the Yellow Dog Project is such a simple and sensible idea and well worth looking up. Very interesting. Wow, so what is number five on your list of pet hates?

Cold calls and spam: I don’t want to answer the phone to hear a stranger trying to sell me something. Cold callers have tried to sweet-talk me, bully me and have even made the big mistake of asking to speak to my husband ‘the decision-maker’. This is all made even more difficult for me because I live in France, and although my French is OK there is a 30 second delay in my brain before I realise that this person calling me by name is a cold caller. I feel my home has been invaded.

This is going in. If I have to rig the votes and force people at gunpoint to- OK, I won’t rig the votes, but I very much hope it’ll go in. Jean Gill, thank you so much for joining me for Box 010.

My pleasure.

Right then everyone, if you’d like to vote there’s link to the poll further down the page. To find more about Jean’s books, click here for her LuLu shop front and, here for just about any format you like, from Smashwords. You can look at her photos as well, to find those click here. There’s also a bit more about Someone to Look Up To‘ below that.

Join us next week for the results, and in two weeks’ time, when we will be finding out what really ticks off Jaq D Hawkins when she puts her five most loathed items into Box 010.

Someone to Look Up To
‘If you like dogs and good stories, this is a book for you.’ – Louise, goodreads review
It’s a dog’s life in the south of France. From puppyhood, Sirius the Pyrenean Mountain Dog has been trying to understand his humans and train them with kindness…

How this led to divorce he has no idea. More misunderstandings take Sirius to Death Row in an animal shelter, as a so-called dangerous dog learning survival tricks from the other inmates. During the twilight barking, he is shocked to hear his brother’s voice but the bitter-sweet reunion is short-lived. Doggedly, Sirius keeps the faith.

One day, his human will come.

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Box 010 Results: Number 4, A.F.E. Smith

This week’s special guest was A.F.E. Smith, speculative fiction writer and the brain behind the fabulous Barren Island Books, which, obviously, I shamelessly copied when setting up this feature.

You can find AFE Smith’s work on her website and blog here and for an example of Barren Island Books, here…. yeh… still my one.

This week’s vote has been truly stupendous. For the first time ever we have a whopping FOUR items going into Box 010, to be annihilated, for ever, from the collective consciousness. So… without more ado, here are the results.

  1. Dog owners who don’t scoop their poop.
    Yay! They will be placed in a plastic bag and thrown into a tree by a public footpath.
  2. Meat eaters who get all precious about certain animals.
    Excellent! You eat meat, or you don’t. Although I confess, having seen what dogs and cats eat, I would probably demur from eating them.
  3. Badly programmed language aids.
    Take that, Microsoft, in your evil plan to force the whole world type in American, by making the simple process of changing the spelling dictionary to Real English that little bit more complicated than piloting the space shuttle.
  4. The phrase ‘calm down dear’.
    Contrary to popular belief, it seems that nobody likes a Winner.

Well, A.F.E. that is a pretty amazing tally so congratulations and thank you for joining us. Next week, author Jean Gill is hoping that you will help her vote some of her pet hates out of existence.

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Box 010: Number 4, A.F.E. Smith

Hello and welcome to Box 010; a bit of light whimsy which is, in no way, inspired by the popular BBC programme Room 101. Here’s now it works. Every two weeks, my special guest will pop in and then present us with five things they would like to see consigned to the dustbin of existence. This week’s special guest is A.F.E. Smith, speculative fiction writer and the brain behind the fabulous Barren Island Books, which, obviously, I shamelessly copied when setting up this feature.

You can find AFE Smith’s work on her website and blog here and for an example of Barren Island Books, here…. which is the one I did… not that I’m egocentric or anything.

Hello A. F. E. Smith, fellow lover of discreet initials, first of all, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Yes I can. I’m an academic editor by day and a speculative fiction reader by night – or at least, I was before became a parent and discovered that spare time is a lie – yes nothing prepares you for that bit does it? Quite, I am still waiting for an opportunity to save the world by being really good at maths, but in the meantime I write fantasy novels about people with more mundane skills (you know, like swordfighting and stuff). My blog, and information about my works in progress, can be found at the not-at-all-egotistically-named www.afesmith.com. Feel free to ask me anything, except what A.F.E. stands for.

OK, A.F.E. Smith, thank you so much for joining us to sling as many of your pet hates as possible into the oblivion that is, Box 010. What’s your first item?

Meat-eaters who get all precious about certain animals.

As in the woman who tucks gleefully into a steak whilst declaring she could never eat a rabbit because they’re ‘too cute’, or the meat-and-two-veg guy who freaks out at the idea of eating roadkill. Ethically speaking, if you’re willing to eat chicken then you should be willing to eat flattened squirrels and tiny ickle bunnies as well (or at least allow that other people might). Otherwise, your moral stance pretty much boils down to ‘meat is great, as long as it comes prepackaged in anodyne slabs’.

Good one. I can’t fault your logic, in fact, I have eaten roadkill and ickle bunnies… although I might be wary of any roadkill I hadn’t actually seen get killed, on the grounds that it could be dangerously old. You mean freshly run-down though, right?

Yes I do.

Oh good, thanks for clearing that up. Right then, on we go.

What is the second item you’d like to put into Box 010?

Badly programmed language aids.

I realise that spellcheckers, autocorrect and the like are only tools, and that we all ought to have the intelligence to know when to ignore them. But surely a misleading/over-simplistic/just plain wrong language aid is worse than nothing at all? Every time an iDevice erroneously corrects ‘its’ to ‘it’s’, I cringe inside – no wonder people misuse apostrophes if their beloved gadgets are teaching them that ‘its’ is never valid. And don’t get me started on that stupid green squiggle in Word.

Or the American ‘english’ setting that you can’t switch off. Gits. Sorry, your choices are ringing a chord with me…

OK, A F E Smith, what is the third item you would like to put into Box 010?

Dog owners who don’t scoop their poop.

Good choice, one of my own personal pet hates this one… sorry do go on.

I hardly think this one needs arguing, but just in case: you chose to have a dog. It’s your responsibility to clean up after it. Anything else is disgusting, dangerous and socially wrong. It’s the worst kind of littering, and if you do it you’re essentially saying that avoiding a minor inconvenience is worth more to you than protecting children from potentially serious diseases and preventing loads of people from having their day (and shoes) ruined. If you wouldn’t leave it on your garden path then you shouldn’t leave it in a public street. *rant over*

Brilliant, I can’t agree more. Please everyone vote this in.

Alright then, what is the fourth item you would like to wipe from existence and wring out into Box 010?

The phrase ‘Calm down, dear’.

Please, lovely population of the world, never use these three words in this order again. NEVER. They carry with them so much that’s worth despising. Basically, anyone who directs this phrase at you is implying that you’re a hysterical little woman (because, let’s face it, no-one ever says it to a man) and that your emotion, however justifiable, deserves nothing more than a patronising pat on the head. It’s a throwaway response that simultaneously devalues you as a person and closes down any possibility of meaningful debate. Michael Winner has a lot to answer for.

Finally, what is your fifth choice to go into Box 010?

Genre snobs.

Snobs of any kind are pretty irritating. But being a fantasy lover and all, I particularly dislike those who are snobbish about genre novels. What annoys me most about this kind of snob is their tendency to extrapolate from a single work (Conan the Barbarian, say) to an entire genre. Saying that all fantasy fiction is badly written and formulaic is like saying all cats are ginger: it’s a statement that could only be made by a person who’s encountered a very small subset of the population in question.

Another excellent choice which, as a far fetched fiction writer, I can thoroughly identify with. A.F.E. Smith, thank you for joining me today.

Thank you for inviting me.

Right then everyone, if you’d like to vote there’s link to the poll further down the page. To find more about A.F.E.’s writing and/or read her blog, click here.

Join us next week for the results, and in two weeks’ time, when we will be finding out what really ticks off Jean Gill when she puts her five most loathed items into Box 010.

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Results: Box 010 Number 3, Jim Webster.

This week’s special guest was Jim Webster. He has written three acclaimed fantasy books all based in the same world; ‘Swords for a Dead Lady’, ‘Dead Man Riding East’ and his latest book in the series ‘The Flames of the City’, was released this February.

You can find Jim’s Amazon author page here or you can visit his blog here.

Well everyone, the votes are finally in and I am I’m delighted to report that two of Jim’s choices have been successfully voted into Box 010. They are:

  1. Bureaucracy.
    What can I say? Ding dong! With a stonking 40% of the votes, bureaucracy goes in. Thank you, everyone for that one.
  2. Sparkly Vampires!
    Oh Jim! I can hardly contain my glee, yes, yes, YES. They are going in.

So, we’ve thrown the pair of them into Box 010 for ever!  Mwah ha ha hargh!

Thank you for joining us. Next week A.F.E. Smith will be trying to persuade us to put her pet hates into Box 010.

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Box 010: Number 3, Jim Webster

Hello and welcome to Box 010; a bit of light whimsy which is, in no way, inspired by the popular BBC programme Room 101. Here’s now it works. Every two weeks, my special guest will pop in and then present us with five things they would like to see consigned to the dustbin of existence. This week’s special guest is Jim Webster. He has written three acclaimed fantasy books all based in the same world; ‘Swords for a Dead Lady’, ‘Dead Man Riding East’ and his latest book in the series ‘The Flames of the City’, was released a few weeks ago, in February.

You can find Jim’s Amazon author page here or you can visit his blog here.

Hello Jim, first of all, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Well I’m Jim Webster. I’m married and we have three daughters who’ve all sort of left home. I farm, write, and my hobbies include history, walking, cycling, wargaming and role-playing.

I confess to being someone for whom the whole ‘social media’ thing hasn’t really happened. My mobile tends to live switched off (because we don’t get a signal here) and I’ve got a face book page (apparently compulsory now if you want to be a writer) a twitter account I don’t look at every day, and a blog I really ought to write more often. But frankly I’d far rather meet people and sit down with a beer or a good coffee and talk.

I see… a man of many parts. And a coffee addict to boot. Nice one. Right then, let’s crack on and find out what items you’d like to see thrown into the rubbish compactor of existence. What is the first item you’d like to put in to Box 010?

Bureaucracy.

Yes! Go Jim.

I’m sorry, I have wasted too much of my life filling in forms whose sole purpose is to provide a well paid job for someone on far better money than me, or to let them cover their back if anything goes wrong. Every day which doesn’t fetch yet another form to be filled in; or yet another inspector from government or some Quango is a good day. And then there are those politically correct forms! I’m married, I have a wife. A bit back I was in hospital and I got a form which asked for ‘partner’s name.’ The lass at the desk looked a bit put out when I filled it in and pushed it back to her and she discovered I’d put down three names for my partners. As I explained to her, I was (at the time) in a legal business partnership with three other people. If she wanted to know who I was sleeping with, she should have asked.

Mmm hmm, I’d say  you’ve made your view clear there Jim, excellent. Please tell us what you’d like to hurl into Box 010 next.

Eggs.

Eggs? Are you sure about that? What with Michael and his onions… is this a writer thing, aversion to certain foods?

This isn’t their fault; I’d be just over a year old, my parents were taking me with them to spend a few days with a college friend of my mothers. Back then rationing had finished, but stuff was still in short supply, so when on the 10th October 1957 my parents went down from Barrow to Lytham-St Anne’s they took milk, eggs etc. They got there and were told by worried friends that there had been a fire in the core of unit 1 nuclear reactor at Windscale. All milk and suchlike had to be thrown away. So my parents had to dash out into Lytham and buy milk and eggs for me. Unfortunately the hens had been fed on fishmeal, and I apparently ate three spoonfuls and point blank refused to eat boiled eggs ever again. Even now, I cannot sit at the same table as someone eating a boiled egg. I can eat omelette, but if the egg has the audacity to look like an egg, my stomach heaves.

I have to confess to absolutely loving eggs Jim. I hope they don’t get voted in. OK, what’s the third item you’d like to put into Box 010?

Custard: This is another relic from my childhood that still haunts me. When I started school the dinners were made in some central kitchen and trucked in to be warmed and served. Prior to going to school I hadn’t been a fussy eater, but the custard they served there was just a step too far. It was normally cool and always had a thick leathery skin. Finally the crunch came when we were served ‘Manchester Tart’. This is pastry with a smear of jam and a layer of cold custard, served with a lump of cold custard on the side. I just refused point blank to eat it. I was perfectly happy to sit and stare at it all afternoon, and when I finally cracked and ate a mouthful I was promptly sick.  I’ve never eaten it since.

Yikes. I love custard. Hmm… so, item number four on your list of pet hates?

Vampires that sparkle.

Excellent choice! Jim, if you weren’t a married man I’d ask to have your babies. Er hem… Sorry, do go on.
I’m sorry, they’re just so wrong. I’ve let them stand for a whole set of things, like the ‘hero’ of ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ who’s just an irritating brat who needed a swift kick on the seat of his pants before being told to grow up and get a life. I confess I am rather proud of being ejected from the room five minutes into the only ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ programme I ever saw, because I burst out laughing at the fight scenes. In a world with forty mil wooden baton rounds, Vampires are no longer a problem.

Nice. Jim, choice number five…?

Snow: Snow has its place. It looks great on Christmas cards; I can admire mountain views as much as the next man. I just object to it where I happen to live. I’m the one who’s got to shift it so we can get to the main road. I’m the one who has to carry water and feed to livestock, and frankly, I’ve come to the conclusion that water works best as a liquid.

Wow Jim, thank you for sharing those with us.

My pleasure.

Right then everyone, if you’d like to vote there’s link to the poll further down the page. To find more about Jim’s books, click here for Amazon, here for Apple readers, here for Kobo readers and if you’re in the good ol u s of a, here for Barnes & Noble. There’s also a bit more about his latest book, The Flames of the City‘ below that.

Join us next week for the results, and in two weeks’ time, when we will be finding out what really ticks off A.F.E. Smith when she puts her five most loathed items into Box 010.

The Flames of the City
‘The Flames of the City’ is the story of a desperate campaign to hold back the forces of barbarism. With marching armies, pitched battles, bitter fighting, the fall of cities and the defeat of gods. Involves full orchestration and a rather pretty girl, considered the finest hurdy-gurdy player of her generation.

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Results. Box 010: No 2, Simon Royle

This week’s special guest was Simon Royle author of ‘Tag’, ‘Bangkok Burn’ and the brand-new sequel to Bangkok Burn, just published in March 2013, ‘Bangkok Wet: 2 (Bangkok Series)’.

You can find his Amazon author page here or visit his website, which includes his blog and information about his books here. Simon also runs The Indieview, which deserves a mention, by itself, as an excellent resource for writers, readers and reviewers in independent publishing.

Well everyone, the votes are finally in and I am I’m afraid to say that only one of Simon’s choices has been successfully voted into Box 010. That is:

  1. A Mosquito buzzing around your ear as you head to the land of nod.

Now, normally, at this point, I would be able to use my vote to remove Simon’s choice if I saw fit. However, since two of his other choices; politicians – very topical choice this week that one – and economy air travel have just scraped under the 25% of the vote needed to go in, I’m going to add another which is on my own personal list of horror!

So Simon, your objects being thrown into Box 010 for ever are:

  1. A Mosquito buzzing around your ear as you head to the land of nod.
  2. Economy class air travel.

Thank you for joining us, we will put your choices into Box 010, with great glee, I might add, and seal the lid closed with an industrial sized nail gun, oh, and a lot of super glue.

Thank you for joining us. Next week Jim Webster will be trying to persuade us to put his pet hates into Box 010.

Note from Admin, 29.5.13: Apologies for retrospectively disabling comments on this post but it’s getting buckets of spam. I think it must be the word Bangkok.

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Box 010: Number 2, Simon Royle

Hello and welcome to Box 010; a bit of light whimsy which is, in no way, inspired by the popular BBC programme Room 101. Here’s now it works. Every two weeks, my special guest will pop in and then present us with five things they would like to see consigned to the dustbin of existence. This week’s special guest is Simon Royle. His three futuristic technothrillers have been compared, in style, to Asimov and are, in order of release, ‘Tag’ followed by ‘Bangkok Burn’, the first book in the Bangkok series, and its brand-new sequel, just published in March 2013, ‘Bangkok Wet: 2 (Bangkok Series)’.

You can find Simon’s Amazon author page here or you can visit his website, which includes his blog and information about his books here.

Hello Simon, first of all, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Yes I can. I was born in Manchester, England in 1963 and I have been, variously; a yachtsman, advertising executive, and a senior management executive in software companies. A futurist and a technologist, I live in Bangkok, with my wife and two children.

Wow that’s a pretty impressive CV. Well, I hope you’re ready to shove some pet hates into the nihilistic darkness that is Box 010. What is the first item you’d like to put in?

A mosquito buzzing around your ear just when you are about to go to sleep. They’re also the biggest killer globally so it’s more than annoying, it’s sinister.

Presumably something primitive in us knows, too, otherwise such a tiny, insignificant noise would never wake us up.

Yep, almost certainly.

Mmm (shudders). Ugh, right, moving swiftly on from mozzies which buzz backwards and forwards past your ear all night, what’s the second item you’d like put into Box 010?

Politicians – all of them, globally. They serve no purpose, cost a lot of money and apart from when they cause a scandal provide little or no entertainment value. They’re also the second biggest killers globally.

OK, I’ve actually made a rule that we have to avoid politics. Then again, what better way to do that than to put all the politicians into Box 010. Yep, so I’ll let that go, let’s just hope the lovely readers vote them in. What is your third thing?

Karaoke in all its forms. Every time someone sings a song to a karaoke video an angel dies in heaven. I remember – well, permanently scarred is the phrase that comes to mind – the first time I was subjected to the torture of Karaoke. I was in a pub in Hong Kong, the year was 1983. I was trying to persuade a woman called Gillian to come and take a look at my etchings. Romeo and Juliet, by Dire Straits, had just ended building the romance of the moment as were the tequila shots,  when, from somewhere hidden… “And now, de end is here, And so I face the final curtain, My fliend I say it crear…” the flowers on the table wilted as did any thoughts of romance. I was brutally reminded of every filling in my teeth and all I could think about was where to get my hands on a sawn-off double-barrelled twelve bore with double ought shot. So please, if you disagree with all my other choices, put this one goes into The Box and make me a happy chappy.

Mwah ha haahrgh! Yes. I can imagine that was fairly traumatic. So what’s the fourth thing you’d like to consign to Box 010?

Economy class travel on airoplanes. There’s a theory going around called Evolution, a theory that is clearly debunked by Economy Class air travel. What people in their right minds would pay to be put in a tin can, pressurized, flung through the air at 750 mph, fed shit and treated worse. Then if you complain be sent off to Guantanamo for the rest of your natural life.  How can we possibly claim to have evolved?

Simon, what’s the fifth and final item you’d like to put into Box 010?

Financial advisers. They advise you how to give them money, lose it, and then pay themselves a huge bonus.

Another excellent choice. Simon, thank you for joining me here for larks and a light rant.

It was a pleasure.

So there we are. Folks if you’d like to vote there’s a poll box at the bottom of the page. To find more about Simon’s books, click here and there’s a bit more about his latest book, ‘Bangkok Wet: 2 (Bangkok Series)’ below that.

Join us next week for the results, and in two weeks’ time, when we will be finding out what really ticks off fantasy author, Jim Webster, when he puts his five most loathed items into Box 010.

And now the voting… you, yes, you ladies and gentlemen can decide which of Simon’s items go into Box 010. You have until next Wednesday 17th April, to cast your vote using the poll below. Yep, it’s that easy.

Simon’s latest book, Bangkok Wet: 2 (Bangkok Series) is the sequel to the acclaimed, Bangkok Burn.

As Bangkok barricades itself against a rising flood of toxic waste, Chance has got some wet work of his own going on. He’d rather be on honeymoon with Pim; that had been the plan.

But the plan didn’t include the untimely death of a Godfather’s son, being blamed for the theft of a billion baht, and a move by a rival gang on Big Tiger’s territory; now there’s a new plan – war and retribution.

Funny thing about guns and plans – everyone’s got one.

Note from Admin, 29.5.13: Apologies for retrospectively disabling comments on this post but it’s getting buckets of spam. …I think it must be the word bangkok.

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