Monday, 9 March 2009

News News News!

Exciting News!!!
... I'll start with the good news first. Some of you will know that this year I am committed to two main writing projects. The first: to complete the first draft of a fantasy novel that I started working on last year. The second: is a short story collection in which a number of the short stories will form a portfolio for my MA project. Well, one of the short stories, Blessing, which I hope to develop for this said portfolio has successfully been published HERE in the March/April issue of Munyori Literary Journal. There are lots of strong contributions on the online journal so I encourage you to have a good nosey around (lol)... Anyway, I’m keen to share this story with you because it gives a different example of the kind of short stories that I do write. To give you some background... here is an extract from my working synopsis of the short story collection (which we've had to prepare this term): Walls Have Ears gives voice to the voiceless in its delicate portrayal of characters hemmed inside silent walls across two continents. In the dense landscape of Nigeria a journey to Calabar in search of tortoise eggs decides the fate of Emeka; Nnamdi finds his destiny determined by a basin of bulging yam heads; and Celeste finds her answers to womanhood in The Outhouse. Meanwhile, as the world turns providence falls on the children of Britain, Emma finds clues to the loss of her sister among a collection of butterflies; and Indigo witnesses the brutality of man strewn between bales in a barn.” As always, it'd be great to have your thoughts and comments on this short story... :)

Grim News:(
... now unto the bad news. This weekend, late on Sunday, I was unfortunate in that I had my personal yahoo/hotmail accounts compromised. Some unscrupulous person(s) managed to hack into my accounts (which incidentally are linked) and sent out a spam email to my entire contacts list (that included a whole host of people that I hardly know since my yahoo, particularly, automatically saves addresses in my contact list). Not only that, they deleted my entire yahoo address book in the process. I've been using these accounts for nearly 12-15 years and I've never encountered this problem in all that time. Anyway, I spent a good four hours into the wee hours of the morning trying to regain control of my accounts. Through the process, I found that I was not alone – there is an increasing rise of spam scam which seems to affect many of the web based email systems. And of course there was the very recent incident where Jack Straw’s (a UK politician) email account was breached in very much the same manner and his entire constituency contacts list received a dubious email. For that news story check it out HERE. To re-establish the security of my account I was assisted by this excellent SITE and I basically had to spend time re-securing passwords on all my yahoo and hotmail accounts, and ensuring that my firewall and anti-virus were loaded and working – which they were – but I thought to double-check because I do get a lot of spam traffic injected in my yahoo and hotmail accounts daily. It’s never been much of a problem, as more often than not, the spam emails arrive in the spam folder but recently (a problem with my favoured yahoo account) the spam nonsense has been arriving in my inbox proper. It has concerned me quite a bit in the last 2 or 3 months... but I have been on the move a lot and I have been using (both secure and unsecure internet wireless networks) whenever I’m on the road... so that may be part of the problem. I shared my angst with a few friends last night as the troubles were unfolding and said that sometimes I think technology poses more problems than it solves and I wondered how on earth we survived without all this internet technology in the past. But as I was cursing, ranting and raving (oh - I wasn't a pretty sight to behold last night... chuckle)... I decided that as with many things you have to take the good with the bad. To be honest, I wouldn’t give up the worlds that the internet has opened up for me, such as blogging where I've met, and continue to meet, so many great and interesting folk... so I guess I do have to take the grime with the glory (lol). Well, I thought I’d share this stress with you guys and get it out of my system (hee hee). They do say that a problem shared is a problem halved. Feel free to comment and let me know that I am not alone in my spam scam misery.

Other News!

For recent A-Z Fact File: G & H... please scroll down to preceding post...

Books I'm reading... I'm just finishing off a fantastic book: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and I'm also dipping into an Anton Chekhov collection of short stories: About Love and other stories... another gem of a read! It'd be great to know what others are reading at the moment... as I'm always looking for inspiration as to what my next 'amazing' read will be!

Thought I'd end on a positive note (smile)!


18 comments:

Strawberry Girl said...

Cath, that's... terrific and horrible new's. I am excited for you about the short story's that were published and I hope that the e-mail spam bots stay away from now on (honestly don't people have better things to do with their lives, than spamming?!?! Apparently not).

:0)

Cynthia said...

Hi Catherine great news about your
short story and I will read it
today. You write with an excellent,
feeling and observant pen.
I've always loved and wanted to
write short storie and now you
have really inspired me.

Sorry about your yahoo account.
However, after 15 years without
a problem, that's pretty good.

The Chekhov short story collection
sounds interesting and I will try
to find a copy.
Fall On Your Knees, is excellent,
very emotional and absorbing,
haven't read the Posionwood Bible
yet, but I've heard it's very
good. Both are Oprah selections.
Just completed the Audacity of Hope, excellent writing and insights and quite informing.

You know what book is wild to read again? - Frankenstein, by Mary
Shelly, I was amazed how the author
delved inside the head of this
so-called monster.

NAVAL LANGA said...

Ms. Catherine Mark-Beasant

I read the story 'Blessing'.
You paint the story with the colors of the words, and the final picture is beautiful. I enjoyed it word to word.

Naval Langa
PAINTINGS GALLERIES

An Interesting Blog
MEDICAL TOURISM IN INDIA

Khaled KEM said...

Catherine,

Congratulations. The feeling of having some of your work published is a very special and joyful ones. It is kind of having a new baby born or to be accurate a child getting graduated from college. I do not know what I used that specific analogy maybe because I became recently a father...

As for the Yahoo account...I switched to MacBook as I suffered from PCs big time. I just learned that Apple's computers are not immune to viruses as well and I have different emails account and after reading your post I went doing a check up on all of them.
Thanks for letting us know about and sorry that it happened to you.

Mike said...

Wow that suck. I thought I had it bad with my account.

Melissa Barrett-Traister said...

Good(early)morning,Catherine.
Thanks for giving your readers(myself included)an update as to what is happening in your world.

I am so HAPPY that you got published again,and will be checking out your suggestions soon.
As for the books that you are reading,Kingsolver has always been suggested to me,but I've never been able to get around to her words.From what I also understand,she lives(or maybe doesn't any longer)in Tucson,Arizona,which is about two hours from me. Huh,maybe this is a way of finally pulling me into her words,courtesy of your fine suggestions? We shall see!:)

As for the email,I've had this happen to me once.It was HORRIBLE!
Ugh! I feel for you,and will send out good vibes into the universe that the turn around is smooth from here on out.

Have a wonderful remainder of the week!
Keep writing and sharing with us all!
Much love,
Melissa

CathM said...

@ Strawberry Girl: Thanks for the positive vibes re the ‘spam bots’ (grin)!

@Cynthia: You write such beautiful poems that carry lots of narrative energy in them... I think you’d write wonderful short stories... I’m looking forward to reading some when you do write them :) ps thanks for your book ideas!

@Naval: “I read it word for word” – what a lovely compliment. Thank you!

@Khaled: Hmmmmm – I can only imagine the ‘new baby’ analogy since I’m not a parent... but I think I understand what you mean (lol). By the way CONGRATULATIONS on the new addition to your family :) Re Apple Mac – I have thought that my next laptop should be an Apple Mac – but I keep getting mixed opinions about going down the route of an Apple Mac. In any case – I’ve only had my current laptop for about 1 ½ years... so it’s way too early to be thinking about new laptops (especially on a teacher’s salary... lol...)! But thanks for sharing your thoughts...

@Mike: Thanks for visiting my blog. Yes – it really did ‘suck’... and I’ve been feeling pretty ‘blue’ all week... it’s funny how something like that can set one’s entire week off on a negative vibe... :( But it’s Thursday today (in the UK)... and I’m hoping that the weekend will clear my ‘blues’ away...

@Melissa: Lovely to have you drop in and leave such an affirming comment. Thanks for your positive vibes. Re Kingsolver – it’s funny... but when I first heard of her some years back I was really put off by the title of the book (dunno why!)... anyway, it’s only because I saw that she was in the ‘1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die’ (a volume I picked up this past summer to go with my ‘1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die'... lol...) that I decided to give her a go... and I’m so glad I made the effort... it simply is a ‘brilliant’ read!

christopher said...

Cath, lovely to read that you are published. Me too.

As for Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible, I loved it, well, I think that is far too simple a response to the complexity of that book. I often don't remember much about books I read. I trained up reading science fiction as a boy and never developed good memory habits, but this one I remember. Africa can eat you alive, even if you learn quickly how to live. I lived in East Pakistan for a couple years (now Bangladesh) but that was far more civilized.

About the hack, all I can say is, shit. I had a virus one time from going out to do legitimate professional business. It stripped windows out of my computer and I had to start over in a bunch of ways. I didn't understand what happened. So I tried it again and it happened again. But a few days later, it didn't happen going to the same business site.

judith ellis said...

Catherine - Congratulations on the short story! Bravissima! Ugh, on the second. I will now check my email accounts. Thanks for the information--much appreciated.

Lilly Jones said...

Hey Sis,

Sorry for the spam wahala (stress)&
glad its all sorted. Stay blessed... LJ

Athelas said...

Oh my goodness, congratulations!
That is such wonderful news. Seeing your own name in print at last!

The Poisonwood Bible is terrific, as is its author. Have you read The Bean Trees?

What a pain those spam bots are. Hopefully they'll leave off for at least another fifteen years.

Athelas said...

Great sky, Catherine. I have come from reading your story. I cannot begin to convey its magnitude. I am waiting for your short story collection and fantasy novel to be published! Wonderful, Catherine, simply wonderful.

June Saville said...

Hi Catherine
Well done about your short story! Very happy for you.
I wanted to let you know that I've resumed Pip's story on Journeys in Creative Writing. Will she discover the identity of her father?

CathM said...

@Christopher: Ooooh... I’d be interested to read/hear more about your time in East Pakistan. I can imagine that it was an incredible experience in many ways...

@Judith: Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

@Lilly J: Thanks for your thoughts!

@Athelas: Thank you re publication! And, no – I’ve not read ‘The Bean Trees’... I must look it up!

@June: Lovely for you to pop in and comment. Oh – yes, I’m keen to know who Pip’s father is... another strong chapter, btw!

Calli said...

Hi Cath~ First off, congrats on your short story. That is wonderful and exciting news. I will have to return to catch up on your excerpt and your A-Z writing. Secondly, YEAH!!! You made it into my blog. That's so great though I am curious if it was IE that let you in or another browser, but either way, I am happy you made it in.

To more creative writing! Cheers!

CathM said...

@Calli: Thank you! And, yes – I accessed your blog through IE (surprising, as I haven’t done anything differently this end)... but I'm so glad I'm able to connect with your blog now!

Bee Bee said...

Hi, a poignant story with the right amount of emotions depicted. I loved the death related similies and metaphors that you used in the story.

The usage of poetry within the story was terrific.

CathM said...

@Bee Bee: Great to have you visit my blog space. And, many thanks for reading and leaving such generous comments on my short story ‘Blessing’! Hope you stop by again soon.