Mnemonics Competition

There’s a competition in this post!

Today’s word for the day on Facebook Scrabble is ADJACENT. The definition is: near, next to. I immediately thought back a thousand years to English lessons, where we had to recite:

Abundant plenty
Abundant plenty
Abundant plenty
Adhere stick
Adhere stick
Adhere stick
Adjacent next to
Adjacent next to
Adjacent next to

I can’t remember what came after that, but I did once. Reciting these definitions definitely helped to improve my vocabulary.

There are a few other things I remember learning at school. Like “M-I-double S-I-double S-I-double P-I” and “N-E-C-E-double S-A-R-Y”.

And these:

LADPOCS (Geography)
BODMAS (Maths)
King Henry’s daughter makes (/gnaws) delicious cream meringues (Maths)
Rejoice heartily, your teacher has measles (Music)

So, there’s the competition. Do you know what any of those things in red mean? The first person (people) to tell me in the comments will get… I don’t know. But I’ll think of something.

People who were at school with me (you know who are) are not eligible to enter.

Moral: when all else is forgotten, it’s the mnemonics that stick.


Announcing the Winner

Well, I tried to run a competition on my blog, but in the end there was only one entry. The good thing was that this made my job of judging very easy. But I expect Annette would have preferred to have won against some other entries.

Just as I was thinking that I made a mess of this and wondering whether the task I set was too hard, or I didn’t advertise the competition enough, or I’m simply not worthy of holding a competition, Gill wrote this:

“I liked Annette’s entry and I’ll be happy to give her the prize, but wish my fractals had inspired more entries.”

So, while I was blaming my blunders, Gill was blaming her fractals. I suppose that’s better than blaming each other, although this points to a certain lack of confidence.

Hopefully, by my blog’s next birthday I’ll be more confident about running a competition. Or else I’ll let the day come and go without mentioning it.

By the way, whether you like it or not, I’m back from my bit of life and I have some ideas for posts lined up, so do come back soon.

And congratulations to Annette!


Deadline Extension

It was silly of me to think that I would have time to handle the competition just now.

The new deadline for my competition is Wednesday, 14 April, 2010. You still have time to win three fractal images. The rules are here.

Happy writing!


Normal service will be resumed

Is anyone else old enough to remember this?

Please do not adjust your sets.
Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.
We apologise for the break in service.

Sometimes real life intervenes. I should be back to normal in two weeks. Maybe less….
In the meantime, don’t forget my competition.


Birthday, Interview and COMPETITION!

I’m one today.

To celebrate my first birthday, I’m posting my first interview and holding my first competition. Yes, at the end of this post you can win a prize. Here’s a clue to what that prize could be:


My guest today, Gill Downs, is not a writer, although, having been on the receiving end of many wonderful emails from her, I know she could be. She has appeared before in this blog, but this time she’s here to tell us about the business she has developed around the fascinating world of fractal images. Not having much idea of these, I began with the obvious question.

M: What are fractals?

G: Fractals are forms produced by fractal geometry and characteristically contain infinite copies of themselves at different points and scales, revealing more and more detail however closely you look at them.

Fractal geometry underlies the forms of the natural world, and the beauty of the patterns and structures seen in fractals are evocative of those found in nature – in, for example the self-similar patterns and forms of leaves and flowers, snowflakes, mountains, clouds and river networks.

M: What made you decide to create fractal images?

G: I came to making fractal images from a long-standing interest in fractals. I remember watching a fascinating TV programme about the Mandelbrot Set [M: see for another fascinating programme] years ago when computers powerful enough to generate them were first available, so when I eventually had a half decent computer myself I began investigating fractal generating software. I had no idea before this that sophisticated fractal graphics programs had been developed and that there existed a whole world of fractal art and artists creating beautiful fractal images.

M: What have you learnt from this venture? Has it changed your aspect on life in any way?

G: I’ve learned a great deal of technical stuff, and I’ve acquired a lot of new skills which have wider applications. And it has changed my aspect on life through a deeper understanding of the role fractal geometry plays in shaping the universe. It’s also led me to becoming involved in communities, both real and virtual, based around fractals and/or art and artists.

M: Do you have to know a lot of maths to create the images or does the software do it all for you?

G: Well that’s not really an either/or question. No, you don’t have to understand the underlying maths to use the software, but even so it certainly doesn’t do it all for you. There are fortunately some very brainy formula writers who write the fractal formulas and colouring algorithms for the principal software I use, Ultra Fractal, but the parameters of the formulae can be changed and combined by the user in numerous ways to create an infinite variety of possible images, the characteristics of which are user-defined.

One of the virtual communities I’ve become involved with is the Ultra Fractal mailing list, on which formula writers and fractal artists share their work and knowledge. People ‘tweak’ each other’s images, answer questions, post tutorials and challenges etc. – it really is a wonderful resource for anyone who might be interested in trying their hand at making fractal images 🙂


Gill, thank you so much for giving us a brief introduction to this complex topic.

Gill’s company is called ex entropy. If you want to know where the name comes from or any other information about fractal images and the cards and prints that ex entropy produces, you’ll probably find the answer at


Gill has very kindly offered to give away three of her images to the winner of my competition. These will be of their own choosing, selected from any on the website, and will be sent rolled in a tube to wherever the winner is in the world.

So, here’s what you have to do. Write a story about a character who suffers from social anxiety or just describe such a character. If you’ve read some of my blog, you might have an idea about how such a character would behave. Or you might know someone who fits the bill. Or you can find explanations on the Internet.

The winner will be the person whose description or story best captures the essence of the disorder, in my opinion.

Rules: maximum 200 words, to be sent to or as a comment to this post by Monday, April 5.

While you’re busy writing, I’ll be busy too – sping cleaning. Grrrrr!


Watch this space…

Tuesday is my blog’s first birthday.

Do come back here on Tuesday to help me celebrate it.

You’ll be able to read about something special. Something not connected to SA, or writing….

And there’ll  be a competition! With a prize. Three prizes, in fact.

See you then.


I didn’t win

*SOB* I didn’t win any chocolate in Nicola Morgan’s Hotel Chocolate Halloween Competition. This means that I have to disappoint the two people – Royal Holloway Girl and Gill – who were competing to be my nominee for the chocolate. Still, it also means that no one will fall out with me over this, and maybe they’ll find it in their hearts to love me anyway, despite my failure to assuage their cravings.
The winning stories are here.


Don’t enter this competition

DO NOT under any circumstances enter Nicola Morgan’s Hotel Chocolat Halloween Competition. I have submitted my two entries and I intend to win, so make sure you don’t click that link and, even if you do, don’t send any entries of your own.

Not that I can actually win the chocolate *sob*, because I’m not in the UK, but I can nominate someone who is and will love me forever more.