OMG - book!

Friday, 10 November 2006 12:31
strange_complex: (Corpus Agrimensorum colonia)
So I get back from a rather wearisome training morning, and what do I find in my pigeon-hole?

This )

My copy is an advance - it actually becomes available to the general public from 1st December onwards. But, fundamentally, I am now a real, live published author. Wow!

NO-ONE need feel obliged to buy this just because they know me. But if you're interested I can a) give you a bit more of an idea of what's in it than the web-sites do, so that you can decide whether you'd like to buy it or not, and b) order it on your behalf at a 30% discount (i.e. £35 rather than £50).

In the meantime, please excuse me while I go and spend the rest of the day on an excited high...

Finished.

Saturday, 22 April 2006 21:13
strange_complex: (Victory in triumphal chariot)
Oh. My. God.

I have written a book.

*checks*

No, I definitely have. There it is.

WHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

This is certainly turning out to be an incredible year for me.

I can tell that I've written a book, not just because I've got to the end. But because I really feel that I've said everything I have to say about Roman suburbs. That's it now. There's nothing more to add. It's all in the book. And, bar a few final tasks, and perhaps the odd extra word chopped out here and there, it's ready to go out to the world.

The first sentence reads thus:

"A Roman city, like a text, a vase or a statue, is an artefact of the society which produced it."

and the last one thus:

"Thus it is in their use of the urban periphery as a place for constructing monumental public buildings that the relationship with Rome can best be traced."

If you want to find out what happens in between, you'd better join the queue to buy a copy, hadn't you? ;)

Living as a hermit

Saturday, 8 April 2006 13:22
strange_complex: (Penelope)
I've just been on a round trip to the post office and Sainsbury's. This is worthy of note, because it is the first time I have left the house at all, for anything, since last Saturday evening. That makes six whole, complete days as a hermit: quite possibly the longest time I've been without leaving the house ever before.

It must be confessed that I fall a little short of true hermit status, because Fleur WINOLJ came round for a whole two hours on Wednesday night, and I have also been talking to people occasionally on the phone, as well as reading and commenting on people's LJs. Still, I've definitely been spending an unusual amount of time with no company but my own.

Damn fine company, too )

A bright spring morning in Oxenmaford )

My new trousers )

WOW! )

I'm always nervous about the fit of clothes when buying online, but these don't just fit me well. They fit me perfectly - like they'd been growed for the job (as my Dad says). They are also incredibly flattering to my figure, and will go very nicely with some chunky black and purple ankle-boots and a funky industrial black and purple jumper which I already own. I cannot, of course, attend Intrusion on Tuesday, due to the continuing hermitage. But you can bet your boots I'll be there for the May 9th one, and that these trousers will be with me. Oh, and I should warn any fellow attendees that, according to the label, these trousers are called 'Lust Pants'. Beware!

Well, I guess it's back to the grindstone, then. I'm currently writing about baths in the urban periphery - why they were built there, what they were like and what people did with them. Cheery comments to help me on my way much appreciated!
strange_complex: (Snape writing)
As of today, it's exactly a fortnight until I plan to complete my book. Already, my LJ is seriously neglected, and friends who text or phone me asking me to come out to things are getting used to the reply, "Sorry - book." I'm pretty flaky about answering emails, too.

This post is mainly to say: bear with me, gang - this will pass. I apologise if I'm socially all but non-existent over the next couple of weeks, but I'm sure you'll all understand the situation.

I do expect to continue reading and commenting on other people's journals, as, frankly, it's helping to keep me sane in the midst of an existence which is now seeing me leave the house only once or twice a week when I need to go either to the supermarket or to the library. But, as you can imagine, using my spare time to write proper journal entries of my own is somewhat unattractive just now, given that I'm spending all day every day typing like a lunatic anyway. Any entries I do make are likely to be increasingly self-absorbed, and possibly slightly insane: you have been warned!

Normal service to be resumed, I very much hope, after the Easter bank holiday. Till then, arrivederci!
strange_complex: (Handel)
Given that I have complete and up-to-date copies of my book on:
  • My hard-drive
  • A CD
  • My Yahoo email account
  • The Warwick University server
... it would be overkill to put it on the shiny new data-stick my Dad gave me and email it to my work and Excite email accounts as well. Right? Right???

In other news, the materials for the course I'm going to be doing with [livejournal.com profile] redkitty23 next term on The Operas of Handel arrived today. I'm very excited! It tells us what operas we'll be covering each week, and there's a recommended reading list as well.

This means that I can now see that, thanks to superhuman CD-copying efforts over the past couple of months, I have indeed successfully acquired copies of most of the major works we'll be studying. In fact, over a 10-week course, there's only 3 weeks for which I don't have at least some of the appropriate listening material. So that's good - I can listen to the relevant operas in preparation, and read the right bits of the books, and turn up with a big, swotty 'I did my homework' grin on my face. :)

And homework is right, because we also have to do worksheets each week, to 'consolidate' what we've learned in class. We can even do an essay if we want! (Although I'm not sure I'll actually go that far - I may have finished my book by then, but I have a paper queuing up to be written, too.)

But yay! I am going to be a student again! How amusing.
strange_complex: (Penny Farthing)
Nothing spectacular - just one of those days that you feel good about at the end of it. So far, it has gone like this:

Morning - made good progress with chapter four. Finished the process, started yesterday, of collapsing the first 3000 words of it into 2000 better words. If things continue at this rate, of both speed and reduction, I've a good chance of finishing according to my current schedule (i.e. by April 18th).

Lunch - ate microwaved remains of last night's Taste the Difference goat's cheese and red pepper pizza. Yummy.

2pm - met [livejournal.com profile] stompyboots for coffee. Chatted about Leeds (which for some reason I kept calling 'Liverpool'), book, laptops and her current crush. It felt like a high-quality, well-deserved break after a productive morning - rah!

3pm - headed for the library. Continued to be happily productive. Tracked down useful and interesting references easily and efficiently. Left feeling I'd made significant progress.

5pm - bought tasty things at Sainsbury's and took them home.

And now, [livejournal.com profile] davesangel will be arriving shortly to stay over for the night! I haven't seen her since December, and am really looking forward to spend the evening eating some of the tasty food I bought earlier and chatting together.

So, in short - hooray!
strange_complex: (Silver Jubilee knees-up)
CHAPTER 6 IS FINISHED!

*does the chapter-6-is-finished dance*

It's 3,500 words shorter than when I started (about 1/6 of its original length), and a damn sight better, too.

Not bad going, considering term only ended ten days ago. See what happens when I get a bit of time to do some real work? Pity I know perfectly well it was always going to be the easiest chapter to revise in the whole book. And that the hideous spectre that is chapter 4 still awaits me... :/

Feels good, though, and my timing r0xx0r, since tonight is Intrusion, so I get to go off and dance as a nice reward. 'Scuse me while I go paint my nails!
strange_complex: (Latin admirable sentiment)
Some random recent things:

1. Yesterday, a man came round and raked all the leaves off my lawn! I'd been meaning to do it myself, but I'm glad I didn't now. He's the gardener for the communal parts of our flats, and has no obligation to do anything with my patch at all. But I ain't going to be the one who goes out and explains to him where the communal parts end and my own garden begins.

2. Yesterday evening was Cat WINOLJ's birthday, and what a lovely time we had. Luscious cocktails in Raoul's, followed by dinner in a place called Big Bang. Not, as Hitch-Hikers fans might assume, a burger bar, but a place which specialised in sausages and mash. I had two deliciously rich venison sausages on a garlic and rosemary mash and swimming in a gorgeous red wine 'jus'1, followed by Jam Roly-Poly - yay! Definitely a good choice of venue, to which I hope to return in future to explore some of their other options.

3. Book stuff seems to be happening at the moment. I've got lots of other bitty tasks to do, so I'm setting a pattern of working solidly on the book in the morning, and sorting out other stuff in the afternoon, with a return to the book later on if I'm not going out in the evening. Progress is being made this way on all fronts, and it feels good. It is also amazing how much time there turns out to be in a week when you're not spending 10 hours of it commuting.

4. I've now posted my letter of complaint to the manager at Dukes Hotel. Sorry it took a few days, chaps - my printer is being rubbish again, so I had to get a friend-of-a-friend to do it. But it's on its way.

5. I'm starting to feel reasonably Christmassy, but I'm not cracking out the Xmas music until I do my cards - probably tonight and / or tomorrow. Big thanks to those people who have sent cards to me already!

6. That's probably enough for now.
--------
1. Since when was a perfectly good word like 'sauce' universally ousted by the word 'jus'? That's what I want to know.
strange_complex: (Snape writing)
Oxford lay buried in a deep, off-white fog all day today. But I didn't mind at all. The only time I had to go out of the house was to walk to and from seeing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with [livejournal.com profile] redkitty23, both of us wrapped in gloves, scarves, warm coats, long black skirts and, in my case, my new sexy boots. Especially on the way back, when it was dark and wintry and we walked across my bridge deep in conversation about the film, the fog only served to make the journey feel like a real-life extension of the Hogwarts experience. Perhaps a cut scene featuring two particularly attractive young teachers, set on the rickety wooden walkway which crosses the steep valley behind the school.

Since this magical experience constituted the first time I'd worn my boots out of the house, and they do feel just like the sorts of boots a female teacher at the school might wear, they shall forever after be known as my Hogwarts Boots.

What about the film itself? Spoilers ahoy! )
strange_complex: (Sherlock Holmes trifles)
I'm working entirely from home this week, as it's 'reading week' at Warwick (although I still had to teach first years on Monday, because they don't get one). In the garden outside my window, lots of little birds are hopping around, rummaging for seeds and grubs, and chirruping as they do so. It's rather nice to have them keeping me company as I continue to edit chapter 3.

On this topic, I'm going to try out LJ's new 'insert picture' function, and see if it will let me put in a picture of my flat, so you can all see the garden I'm talking about. Here goes:

I live here )

Hmm, it's worked, but the image is smaller than I'd like. So, experiment conducted, but I think I'll use methods which allow me more control over my pictures in future. Anyway, the front part of the ground floor of the building in the photograph is my flat, so all the windows you can see at that level are mine. I am working just inside the window in the bottom right-hand corner, and the birds are jumping around in the large bush-type thing in front of it (although that is now, of course, leafless). Please pause to admire my rose (pink) and clematis (lilac).

Hell, let's have a picture of my bridge while we're at it. I've been meaning to post this for a while:

It's mine, I tell you - all mine! )

This crosses the railway to approach my house, and although it was built by the Council, it is, self-evidently, my personal property. I cross it every single time I leave the house, and my friends never cross it for any reason other than to get to my house. Ergo, mine. It is my equivalent of the large gates and tree-lined avenue which told visitors they were entering into the territory of a stately home. On the bridge, you can see the small, retreating forms of [livejournal.com profile] edling, [livejournal.com profile] johnnydefective and [livejournal.com profile] angeoverhere.

Six Feet Under and Rome )

Oh, and all you legions of people who don't have [livejournal.com profile] exler_rss on your friends list - you do know that it's a regular Dilbert feed, don't you? There are occasional short articles in Russian as well, actually, but they are easily ignored for the much higher proportion of daily Dilbert cartoons which you get. Just spreading the love, there.

Time for more of chapter 3, I do believe...

Rah!

Monday, 8 August 2005 18:35
strange_complex: (Invader Zim globe)
I have worked like a trooper today, with the result that chapter 3 is nearing the half-way-to-completion mark. OK, so I know in my heart that what I've really done so far is mostly the easy bits, but still - it feels good.

I have also managed to eat not one single sweet or piece of chocolate all day, despite the fact that I have two boxes of chocolates and two bags of Fox's Liquorice and Aniseed sweets distributed between my house and my office. I had the opportunity, but chose not to take it. That feels good, too.

I think it's safe to say that today was generally a good day, then.

Back in Belfast

Wednesday, 13 July 2005 20:41
strange_complex: (All roads lead to Rome)
I flew back from Brum in the early afternoon today, and chatted to a very nice couple on the plane who'd just been to Australia for a year.

I must say I'm glad I did decide to stay a few extra days in B'ham and avoid the Twelfth, though. There were some nasty riots in north Belfast, which are brought closer to home by the fact that I know the girlfriend of the BBC journalist mentioned in the article as having been injured in the riot. He has a shrapnel wound from a pipe bomb in his lower back, but is home now and recovering well, thank the gods.

Aftermath in south Belfast )

I've spent the last couple of days mainly relaxing and enjoying the sunshine and the company of my parents, and also getting a few gentle bits and bobs done. I've booked my flights for my interview at Reading, and will fly back to Birmingham next Wednesday, to travel on down to Reading the next morning for the interview. I've also been reading some Geography books: specifically stuff about Central Place Systems, zones of influence, catchment areas and so on. This sort of stuff has quite often been applied in historical and anthropological contexts, and I'm using it to help me back up some of the stuff I'm saying in my book about the relationship between Roman cities and their hinterlands with a bit more authority. Then, I can show how suburbs fit into that picture.

I've also been helping Mum to decipher a few difficult-to-read words in a very interesting diary she has. It's from 1883, and is the last diary of a Birmingham doctor called James Fitzjames Fraser West, who died in mid-April of that year. He was the grandfather of my mother's step-mother, so I suppose that makes him my step-great-great-grandfather, or something. Anyway, the diary and various other photographs and documents relating to him were kept by the family, and passed to my mother when her step-mother died. She is now writing a biography of him, mainly in his capacity as a typical and well-documented example of a Birmingham medic of the period.

More about JFFW )

For example, he had to treat a patient for a ricked back which he'd caused by lifting up his bedstead with his wife still in it: "too much conjugal affection!", he comments. Another time, while in Italy, he agreed to sing a song during an evening of billiards and music. An Italian captain accompanied him, but he comments that although the captain tried to keep to his tune, "he was very far from it all the time." Meanwhile, in St. Peter's, he measured the size of the columns by having his wife walk around one of them, and noted that it took her 80 seconds to do so.

Deciphering the diary )

Tomorrow, I start work on preparing for my Reading interview: spurred on, of course, by the promise that if I can get enough done by Friday night, I get to spend the entire weekend reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!

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