Katherine Hayton | BLOG

03 Jan / Dogs

Next door has a large English Mastiff that gets very lonely very quickly. As soon as its owners go out of the house he’ll start to howl. He’s a big dog with abandonment issues.

The only thing that snaps him out of his open misery is when something or someone strays too close to his territory, whereupon he turns into a ferocious bark-monster.

When it seems like he could figuratively die of loneliness my darling or I helpfully go outside and walk near the fence to snap him from one inappropriate mood into another.

Because of his strange habits, and added ability to throw himself at the dog fence with gay abandon, I’ve gotten into the habit of looking next door every time I’m out in the garden scrutinising my vegetables. And no, that isn’t a euphemism.

And now I’m forever grateful, because this evening I saw a dog driving a car.

Okay, that may be overstating the matter somewhat. The vehicle was parked at the time. But the border collie was sitting in the driver’s seat, and his paws did appear to be at ten and two, so he could’ve been about to start the vehicle and put it in reverse.

I’ve heard people say that border collie’s are smart before, but this is the final proof.

The only drawback is that I’m slightly embarrassed that a dog next door has learned how to drive a car before I have.

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Come on, right! Some of us don’t have social lives – whether by choice or accident – and we’re kind of reliant on a certain instrument that’s become the focal point of many a lounge room.

I am, of course, referring to the laptop computer.

When I was a child I was restricted to one channel on our television, later expanding to two. It took many a long year before some company decided to invest, and lose money, on a third channel. Then a fourth. Then some more. Then you could get Sky TV and watch many, many channels (though oddly no more television programs.)

Now there are so many different channels available for viewing on your computer, or your computer hooked up to your television, or your television’s own on-board computer, that it seems like we’ll never run out of entertainment.

I was a tad worried at Christmas, remembering long hours of boredom as a child where there would be absolutely nothing worth viewing on TV and we would have to play bored board games instead. But it appears that the British remember this as well and produce a wonderment of television viewing to get you through a long day with your relatives.

I’d started to relax somewhat. There was a new series I was interested in released all at once (which is the best idea in entertainment for a long time) and we had a couple of old reality TV shows stored on the hard-drive (so we can reproduce the same sensation by ourselves.)

And then the New Year hit. We’ve gotten so desperate that today we watched an entire free movie from Vimeo and actually watched it through to the bitter end even though it was sick and disturbing and that was just the people attempting to act.

Sometimes a shoestring budget is a hindrance, sometimes it’s an impetus to brilliance, and sometimes it’s more than they deserve.

There’s still another long week of weirdness before all the networks around the world decide that everyone’s over the holidays and ready to sit down and pay some proper attention again.

Let’s hope I can hold out that long.

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01 Jan / Resolutions

Traditional, isn’t it?

Make a resolution on New Year’s Day, break it by February.

I have been trying to find some resolve somewhere, but it lacking somewhat.

I did think about dieting, but since I was already on a diet that fell somewhat flat. As a contribution towards lower-carb living however, I have now cleaned the house out of carbohydrates by eating all of my (yes, my darling and I do have separate supplies) remaining sugar-filled chocolate, and all of the cruskits.

Of course, up until then I had successfully managed to not eat any of these things just through self-control or something so in making that plan I appear to have stuffed up my diet plans instead.

Oh well, onto another one.

I already know that I’ll be publishing a book at the end of this month, so that option is out of scope (unless I want a given.) I could make resolutions to publish more, but I’ve already started the next so it feels like it’s all ticking over nicely.

I received a promotion in my day job at the end of December so there’s another big tick already gone. I’m also trying not to think about work and about how I have to go back to it shortly so I definitely don’t want to make any work plans on my last few days of holiday.

There’s something wriggling around in the back of my head about how I should probably do more exercise, but as it would be almost impossible to do less than I currently do that doesn’t really count for anything. And no, I’m never going to compete in a marathon so get away from me with your big-goal suggestions.

I do need to plant the feijoa tree in the front garden tomorrow so that it has a chance at a happy life. Will that work? I feel that’s on par with resolving to cook tea tomorrow though. Just another chore that needs to get done otherwise a living thing will die.


This, of course, is miles better than the good ole years when every year I could announce I was giving up drinking and smoking and never really mean it.

Maybe not having a plethora of resolutions at hand is actually a sign of progress and I should embrace it.

I resolve to do nothing because I’m pretty much perfect as it stands.

Yeah. 2015. Bring. It. On.

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Well I have to admit I’ve started already. I’ve begun watching movies on the telly. To be fair I do have to start early because I’m planning on finishing early as well. It’s been many a long year since I’ve been able to stay awake until midnight.

If I was really serious about the whole tradition I could always do a Mr Bean and wind the clock forward a few hours, but that seems too much effort just so I can count back from ten alone (my darling would never join in) and then yell happy new year, and go to bed.

Easier to just play it out in my head now and not risk putting all the clocks in the house out of sync.

In a celebration of a faded memory I did have jelly and cream for dessert tonight. Followed an hour later by my latest crop of ripe cherries (five, two of them untouched by birdlife.)

We are also trying to get some sort of New Year’s Day family celebration thingee going. Cafes in Christchurch haven’t been very compliant so far, so at the moment the plan is to have a picnic somewhere.

The botanic gardens has been suggested as a suitable spot, maybe the Port Hills if it doesn’t get too windy, or the front yard of someone’s house. All equally fine suggestions as long as the house isn’t ours. It would be nice to venture slightly further afield however, maybe even Nunweek Park if we’re lucky.

In honour of the traditional picnic basket spreads from my childhood I’ve baked a bacon and egg pie. I’ve eschewed the various fancy recipes on offer throughout the internet, in lieu of the traditional one that I keep in my head.

It stays in my head largely through simplicity. There’s pastry (or else it wouldn’t be a pie) and bacon and egg. I occasionally go all out and sprinkle on some pepper and salt, depending on the salinity of the bacon chosen (on special of course!)

The main problem with this sudden display of domesticity is that the smell of a beautifully cooked bacon and egg pie has permeated the entire house. The entire house where I’m currently not eating many carbs, and my darling is not eating much fat.

I say it smells beautiful, but it’s more like torment.

Never mind, it’s nearly nine o’clock so I’ll be heading off to bed shortly and wake up tomorrow with the smell dissipated and the New Year here.

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30 Dec / Back

Yesterday I woke up with an incredible pain in my back. This is not unusual, I find it difficult to fall asleep but once I’m there boy I don’t wake up for nobody.

If it’s just a sleep related injury though, it usually dissipates in an hour or so. The worst part is trying to get out of bed when you have to move the back you know is locked in position out of position. Sometimes I fall asleep again trying to work up the physical courage.

This turned out not to be a usual sleep-related injury though. After a couple of hours with no relief, I tried taking some painkillers. After a couple of hours with no relief from those either, I tried complaining a lot.

And then to my horror I woke up with the same pain this morning.

It genuinely feels like someone has twisted both of my arms behind me, and then kicked repeatedly at my upper back.

I’ve been keeping a careful eye on my darling. He’s denying all knowledge of it, but there’s no one else in the house now is there?

Complaints recommenced this morning and have been continuing pretty much unabated for the rest of the day. The only bright point so far is that I’ve groaned my way out of some exercise this morning and this evening, and will continue to do so until I’m fully well (and then a further week or so just to ensure I don’t have a relapse.)

Luckily, I’ve had lots of editing to keep me occupied, and lots of television to partially watch. I’ve also been running a Kindle Countdown sale so my main focus of attention has been hitting the refresh button on my screen to see if I’ve clocked up any new sales. Such fun.

I’ll give it another couple of days, and if it’s still not healed up I may have to think about sometime making an appointment to see a doctor maybe.

I’m back to work on Monday so that would probably be the most appropriate day.

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29 Dec / Categories

For the last few days I’ve been playing with Amazon KDP. I have a new book coming out on January 25th 2015 (do you like the way I shoved a subtle plug in there, eh?) and I’m trying to get it into a couple of categories which are genre applicable.

I don’t mean broad categories either, I mean nice and specific and in which I may have a chance of my book actually being found by someone casually browsing their favourite niche book categories.

First I started off well enough with the BISAC codes where I can just select what I want, but everything after that has gone straight downhill.

My book is applicable for the New Adult category. Amazon has not yet put this out there as an option, so I’m trying to get it into the Teen & Young Adult category (whilst restricting the age to 18+) and also into the normal Adult categories.

As well as this I would like the categories that I select under Book to also be the categories that Amazon put the title into under Kindle eBook.

You may think this makes sense, and would be somewhat automatic. You would be wrong.

Young Adult – Social Issues. I can directly select this category under the BISAC codes and it shows up perfectly well under books, but Kindle just isn’t going to go there.

Fine. I’ve been around this block before, I can just try to hack it then using Keywords. Keywords like Teen & Young Adult, Social Issues. Great. And it only uses two of my seven keywords, so I can try to maneouver it into a few extra places, like Mysteries & Thrillers for old people.

Well I got ahead of myself there, didn’t I?

On the bright side it ended up in Thriller>Conspiracy which I hadn’t foreseen at all. Probably because I hadn’t nudged it in that direction. On the other hand, that could maybe apply?

I stripped the whole caboodle back. I determined that the reason it hadn’t been successful was due to overwhelming the system with options. So the next time I went in I tried taking out all reference to adulthood and mystery and just trying to get some teen social issue action going.

Nope. Now it was Kindle eBook Teen Literature, but nothing social about it.

So I tried to directly hack all of the keywords by typing in every subcategory exactly as they appeared on Amazon, down to beginning with Kindle eBook.


I should probably point out about now that each attempt takes a minimum of 12 hours and a maximum of 48 hours to perform. Each time I submit new keywords or new categories I have to wait for Amazon to check all of the content again and make sure that it still meets their guidelines. My deepest fear now is that at some point they get cheesed off and say NOPE. Reject. And it won’t end up anywhere at all.

I thought that perhaps I should try for an easier category. I’m from New Zealand, there’s a section for Australian & Oceanian that I could possibly squeeze into. I’ll take a break from haranguing the Teen & Young Adult market and I’ll just try to shove it in there instead.

Prove to myself that my magic wasn’t completely gone.

My magic is completely gone. It ended up in the category Fiction>Literature. That’s the category that EVERY SINGLE BOOK ON AMAZON THAT’S FICTION GOES INTO. It’s not a category at all, unless you need to tell it apart from television sets or car radios.

If I exhaust all possibilities I could always try to contact Amazon Support and ask them for help. But that seems to work in direct opposition to everything that attracts me about self-publishing. ie I never want to have to communicate with anyone at all because I’ll be doing everything myself.

Still, it may come to that.

So make a note to look out for Skeletal by Katherine Hayton on January 25th. With any luck it’ll be listed in Non Fiction>Lifestyle>Garden Gnomes by then.

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28 Dec / Use by Dates

My favourite part of supermarket shopping is getting a bargain on an item I was going to buy anyway. If I can knock 50%, or even 25%, off the meat bill I feel like I’ve won something.

There’s a bit of skill involved in this though. Not just seeing and grabbing the items on special, but also co-ordinating the storage later so that all items are consumed or frozen by their best-before or use-by dates.

I did pretty well yesterday – three meat bargains, at a fraction of their original cost. Two of these were chicken which not only started off on special, but were then further discounted for quick consumption. Yeah baby – that’s the good stuff.

The chicken had to be cooked up by the end of today, and the other meat special – scotch fillet steak – has to be consumed by the end of tomorrow.

All was going well. I planned out cooking up the first packet of chicken for lunch yesterday, the first half of steak for tea, the next packet of chicken for tea tonight, and the last steak tomorrow. There would be some pieces of cold chicken surviving the original cook which could be consumed at my leisure for snacking.

But yesterday was very hot, and I didn’t feel like cooking my lunch at all. Not. At. All.

Not to worry, I just pushed back the cooking of the first packet of chicken until lunch today. And then the second for tea. I went ahead with the steak on schedule because hunger and cravings won out over laziness and hotness. That’s the correct use of the word hotness, right?

Then at lunch today, again I couldn’t be bothered. I didn’t actually wake up until almost ten o’clock because someone has decided their snoring device is for work-nights only, and apparently doesn’t know the way to the couch.

My tiredness finally overwhelmed my noise control issues at two-thirty this morning so it took longer than usual to get the required amount of sleep. You’d think with all that extra time awake at night I would’ve found something useful to do, but I was surprisingly unproductive lying in bed with every muscle tensed with annoyance.

To be fair, I could’ve cooked up ALL the chicken tonight and still met my deadlines, but I vastly preferred freshly cooked chicken over cold cooked chicken any day.

So the wooshing sound tonight as I lie trying to sleep won’t be from my beloved’s unholy tongue positioning, but instead from the use-by date on my chicken rushing by.

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27 Dec / Editing

Although that’s not entirely true. Someone has kindly done my editing for me, and I’m now just going through and accepting changes, rejecting changes or making up new paragraphs to avoid decision-making about changes.

The good, even great, news is that I have the editing suggestions sitting in front of me, and I now have a very good chance of meeting all my targets for publication. The drawback is that I now have the very good chance of meeting all my targets for publication as long as I do some work.

I’ve been trying to do that for a couple of days. All those times my darling has walked into the room and interrupted by blank stare at the television that isn’t allowed to be turned on during the day anymore, that’s when I’m working at editing.

The times when I walk into the garden for a break, and then forget to come back inside, I’m working at editing.

When I wander into the front room to choose a new outfit to combat the intrusively hot weather which really should come equipped with a swimming pool, and then try on all my clothing to see which pieces no longer fit, I’m editing.

If you were my editor I’d say it’s going really well. If you’re a potential consumer for my book I’d be worried.

It’s not that I mind making corrections, or decisions, or decisions about corrections, but I hate being wrong.

When I’m at real-paying-job-work I smile and laugh about my errors to display to everyone that it’s okay to be wrong sometimes. Inside, I’m growing a lump of self-hatred at the thought that I mucked something up, and a matching lump of outward-hatred towards whoever picked the error up. That gets really complicated when I pick up my own errors.

Part of this is being an introvert and under the pre-programmed expectation that everyone is going to laugh at me. This is why I don’t talk to strangers at the airport, or friends at parties. To my introverted eyes everyone is poised to find anything I say, do, think or feel is hilariously out of step with societal norms.

Some may say I’m sensitive. Some may say I’m touched. I won’t say anything, because I might be wrong and then you’ll laugh at me and exclude me from the herd.

And do you know why I’ve spent so long telling you about my personal insecurities on the blog tonight?

Yip, you guessed it!

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26 Dec / Waiting

Airport lounges are wonderful inventions which fit in nicely with most hotels propensity to kick you out hours before any flights are scheduled.

Only being on a domestic journey this time, it was even more amusing to have a view straight down into the international departures area where passengers nerves were already being frayed before they could even so much as step onto the plane.

There was the man and his wife who were paged by the boarding gate. I couldn’t quite make out why. He arrived slightly disheveled and looking and acting very much like Woody Allen. Pre-scandal.

He busily explained with copious hand movements exactly why the check-in procedures didn’t apply to him and his very much younger wife. The airline representative then explained exactly why they did and exactly how they would be penalised for thinking they did not.

This went a couple of rounds – gradually the passengers’ faces grew disillusioned, and then resigned. They sat down. There was a brief flurry of activity when the man reignited things at the desk after remembering the key piece of information that was going to change everything, but this ended with slumped shoulders and him sinking back into his seat.

It was at this point that the guy with the violin started up.

Tweet: I’m not sure why anyone’d think an airport departure lounge was an appropriate place to practice a musical instrument, but practice he did.

It would have made some sort of sense if he’d opened the case in front of him to accept donations, but there was none of that. Instead the passengers with the misfortune to be sitting closest to him plugged their ears with an assortment of devices, while the man opposite gave up and went to sleep.

After a half hour of torture practice, the man packed away his violin and there was a relieved wave of activity as earphones were removed and people went back to what they’d been doing previously.

The violin is part of his hand luggage of course, which is why he has it at the departure gate. Those passengers could be in for a long flight.

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