Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Loser's Club: the game!

Play the game: of Loser's.

Try and pick who is the largest loser in the game Bottom trumps (no farting included, honest, although some of the sounds are a little…flatulent). http://www.dragoncity.co.uk/losers.htm


Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer
*Tube Life

dragoncity publishing

Match.com


A few people have asked me how I managed to find someone on Match.com.

Well the answer is simple, be honest. I know that sounds too simple, but it's true. The more honest you are about your preferences, the more likely you are to find someone.

For example, if I hadn't have put 'watching horror' as one of my likes, then my partner wouldn't have bothered to get in contact. If you are genuinely looking for someone to love, then it's important to find someone you have a connection to. My boyfriend and I emailed each other a lot before we met, and had a lot to talk about. When we finally met, we talked for two hours without once feeling awkward!

Talking about emails... they are very important. A lot of people I talked to gave one sentence replies to emails. How does that help me? Apart from being able to drop them quicker...they wouldn't comment on things I had said, nor introduce new topics of conversation. Nightmare.

I also realised that I had to be choosier about whom I talked to, as I was in communication with one guy. For a start he had kids (I was to be substitute mummy at a guess to his dead wife) and as I have zero interest in kids I'm not sure why I started to talk to him. He got very pushy, bullying me into a telephone call when I would have preferred to meet up (I hate the telephone). I never ended up meeting him, but if I had to do this again (god forbid!) I wouldn't have let it get that far.

If you are talking this route though, remember a few simple rules. Give them your mobile phone number rather than home number, it's more difficult to track you through it. If you are meeting someone, let a friend know where and when, and whom you are meetings.

Any doubts, don't go!

Make sure your first date is something simple, like a coffee, and not a meal, so you don't get trapped with them. You could always ask your friend to sit close-by to make sure you are safe. Always meet in a public place, preferably in daylight, and take your own car/transport.

Never accept a lift back, no matter how well you get on with them. And if at any time you are uncomfortable, call it all off. Also, feel free to share, but don't give out personal details too soon.

Give yourself time to think about the person, and if you want them into your life.


Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer
*Tube Life

dragoncity publishing

Monday, 26 September 2011

Friday, 23 September 2011

Loser's Club Cards


Loser's Club cards are now being distributed in certain locations.

These look like Top Trumps cards (elegantly called Bottom Trumps…nice!) and there are 13 to collect.

You can see the full collection either in the game http://www.dragoncity.co.uk/losersclub or on the main page for Loser's Club (http://www.dragoncity.co.uk/losersclub).

See if you can collect them all! I'm giving away a full set of the cards to the first person who can answer this question:

Which chapter is Walter in? Email your answer to georgeebirch@dragoncity.co.uk.

First ten win, and the competition ends 1/1/2012.


Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer
*Tube Life

dragoncity publishing

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Diets don't work


I used to weigh a lot, I'm 5' 9", and was topping the scales at well over 20 stone (for any Americans out there, that's 280 pounds). I'm not sure how heavy I was as I stopped looking at 18 stone, but believe me I got really fat after then.

The problem was that I was addicted to food. I would inhale anything I was eating without tasting it, and was looking forward to the next item as I was eating, rather than enjoying what I had. I spent a fortune on food, making repeat trips to the supermarket to get crisps, sweets, chocolate, cakes, anything I could cram into my mouth that tasted good. I knew I was big, but just didn't have the will power to do anything about it. I would eat until I felt sick, and go to bed with a stomach screaming in agony as I longed to throw it all up. I hated foods like sweet peppers, my 'healthy' lunch of salad was always smothered in mayo, it was the only way I could possibly eat lettuce! Sometimes I would have a 'liquid lunch' which was chocolate and crisps as I hated sandwiches. Really, it was terrible. When Easter came around I'd buy the 12 packs of Cadbury's Creme Eggs, and stuff my face with them. I have thrown food away as well, in a determined effort to stop eating, but then later recovered it from the dustbin when the need to eat became too great, usually at night when the shops were shut.

I woke up in my early thirties, actually when I became very depressed about the state of my life. I started to realise that I was fat, lonely, and a loser...and I needed to change. I was living with my parents still, had never had a boyfriend, and had little identity beyond my home life.

But wanting to change doesn't solve it. I think what helped me was starting to break out of my old life, and discover who I was. I listened to music that was more me, and started to change my brain, remove myself from the self-destructive patterns I had fallen into.  I lost about 4 stone that year and ended up at 16 stone. Still not totally happy with my weight, I was able to ditch the terrible job I was in and move on. And then I really started to lose the weight. I ended up at my lightest being just 10 stone (140 pounds), but that was due to my first ever relationship being a total disaster. So I almost halved my body weight. I was able to clear my debts, leave home, buy a house and find the man of my dreams...my current partner. In the most my weight has stayed off, but I did recently gain some when I was depressed over losing two jobs within a couple of months (due to the recession).

But what I realised is that diets don't work. Not one bit. Not for me. My mother was following one when I was losing weight, and I realised that it was training her to eat. All these 'free' foods you can eat may not count towards your total, but they will not give you sustainable weight loss. Why? Well it's simple. You eat as many low-fat snacks as you like and lose weight, but once you come off that regime, your body is craving those snacks. So as you're 'not on a diet' you have a chocolate bar or whatever, and suddenly you start gaining weight again!

Much better  to assess where you are in the day, and decide if you should eat or not. So if it's 11am and you're craving a snack, listen to your body. Are you hungry? Or are you just bored? Then leave it ten minutes and see how you feel. I usually eat about 12:30, so at 11am if I am actually hungry I might have an apple, beyond 11:30 I'll tell myself it's not too long to lunch, and tough it out.

It's  better to realise this is not a diet , this is now your new eating plan. Not a starvation diet, I would give myself a mid-morning and afternoon snack of two biscuits. This is important, two. I will not go back for more, I have two. I used to grab 5-6 at a time, and go back for more. Starting with two, or one, plain digestive biscuits, means that I have to deliberately return to get more.

I also drastically cut my portion sizes. All that stuff about having smaller plates and not piling it up is very true! When I had a large plate I used to not eat it all, but it's easy to keep going even when you are really full, so small plate, small portions.

I also paid attention to when I was eating. I tend to eat when I'm bored or unhappy, but also as a habit, when I was reading at night for example. I would also make return trips to my goody drawer many times...so I started to ration out the food. On the night, when I was reading, I would get a plate, and a measured amount of treats, two biscuits, and a small bag of sweets typically. Then I would pay attention to what I was eating, and savour it, as I knew I couldn't return. It was really difficult. I stopped buying a variety of foods, nothing will make you eat more than having lots of things to have, then forcing you to choose, as you won't, you'll eat it all. I also bought small packets of sweets that were a measured dose, that way I wouldn't feel I had to overeat to finish a packet. Now I have these treats with my boyfriend, so it's easier to have a controlled amount as we police each other! I have found that, disgusting though it is, chewing gum is an excellent way of staving off cravings. Especially when I'm not hungry, but perhaps bored, if I chew on some for a while it takes away the desire to eat as much. Distracts my brain into thinking that it's eating, and pacifies the amazing urges. Sugar free, naturally. Oh, and don't litter. I use a piece of tissue to gather up the masticated pieces.

I also measure out my treats for the day, making sure I have something to snack on so I don't end up at the vending machine. When I was recently depressed I found I couldn't stay away, and it's taken time to get me back to not wanting that rubbish. As I started to lose the weight I gained confidence in myself, spurring me on to lose more.

I discovered as well that sugar doesn't suit me well, my body craves it. I have actually stopped eating processed sugar in the past, but always seem to end up eating it again! But I keep trying.
Another astonishing side-effect was how good other things taste once you get off the sugar. I love peppers now, and so may vegetables now taste amazing to me, when before I hated them. I was overwhelming my palette so much with sugar I couldn't taste how sweet a pepper was. Now I can not only eat them raw, I choose to!

My boyfriend is also a chocolate addict, but he eats quality chocolate that is really expensive. I've discovered that actually English chocolate isn't very good, and that the quality stuff, stuff I used to hate, once you get used to the taste is amazingly good. But it requires time to re-train your pallet!

What you really have to remember about appetite is that it creeps. That extra biscuit may not harm once, but twice, which becomes every time. Then it's a chocolate bar...and you keep thinking, it's just for now. It's just while I'm down. It's just until after the winter. And so after the event, perhaps there is something else, or perhaps you try to stop eating that extra thing. But you can't. You keep eating it, and perhaps adding another thing. And the weight creeps on. You don't notice at first, a stone over weight isn't ideal, but you can live with it...then it's two stone...and you suddenly can't control it. You spiral into eating and denying yourself, back on the diet wagon. So you have to resist that extra biscuit. You have to stick to eating habits that work, and yes, have occasional treats, but not let these extras creep back in permanently. Remember, it's easier to increase your appetite, much more painful to restrict what you eat.

The other key element to this is exercise. I know, it’s boring, but you have to give it a go. I was huge, but still walked, slowly and not far. I started to go on longer walks, and push myself a little harder each time. I had hand weights to help me. Eventually I was half-jogging around the walk, and towards the end actually running! But you don't have to go that far, just walk to start with. Set goals, and try to go a little further each time, or a little faster. Just a few steps, or a few seconds would do. Just don’t kill yourself over it, you want to be breathless, not gasping for life. A suggestion I read about recently is that you should walk/jog/run up a 10% slope for at least part of your route. That means a steep hill folks, thankfully something my area has plenty of. So I wouldn’t avoid them, although you might want to take it easy on the first few outings.

I also have a Wii, but I can only recommend them to use for muscle and flexibility. I wouldn’t rely on Wii Fit to give you enough exercise to lose the weight, you need to get yourself out there. Although you do need a thick skin. I passed by a couple of teenagers the other day and they giggled…perhaps it wasn’t about me, I didn’t catch the comment. But I’m slim, I can only imagine what they would have done if I had been if I’d been my old, huge self. And what it would have done to me. Just forget about them, and imagine as I did, the two of them getting old and fat. Then forget it, and imagine what you’ll look like if you lose the weight…
I tackle this issue a lot in my writing, you can read it in Loser's Club and in HangmanLoser's Club is interesting because I was reading an article about anorexics, and realised a lot applied to me, a glutton. Just the slight difference of me retaining the food...

So in summary:

Change your mind first. Food is not your friend, it won't help you. And cut the excuses. So you've had a bad day at work, eating will help? How? Comfort? Believe me, when you look in the mirror and you're still fat, that will be less comforting. Get angry with your weight. You want to get rid, and every extra calorie is an enemy you want to avoid.

Eat sensibly. Cut down the portions. Read labels, and make your food from scratch (and if you have a recipe, follow it exactly!) so you know what's in it. Choose only recipes that have calories, to give you can idea of what you are eating.  And make the exact proportions they suggest, don’t eat a recipe for two if there is only one of you…

Listen to your body. If you are feeling like eating, which part of your body is insisting on the food? Do you feel hungry, or are you just bored? Or is it habit? If you are desperate to eat, but don't actually feel hungry, then you are just taking on calories your body doesn't need. Wait for half-an-hour, or until the next meal/snack instead of eating. Or if you must, snack on an apple. See how your body feels then. Does it feel overfull? Then you didn't need to eat!

Don't talk yourself into eating. This is related to the last point. How often have you had really good intentions, but thought, 'I'd love a chocolate bar?'. Then told yourself, you shouldn't, but you really want it, but no, you won't be cause you're trying to lose weight...and the internal debate goes on until you can't do anything but go and get the bar, and eat it. Even if you really don't want to, you've talked yourself into the chocolate by thinking about it too much. You need to train yourself to not think about it. Set times when you can have treats, and stick to them. Eat fruit or vegetables if you really need to eat. If you start to think about a treat that isn't on your schedule, then shut the thought down, and don't think about it.

Don't go mad at special occasions. I lost my weight in two stages, the first one was actually just before my brother’s wedding, although it wasn't planned that way. We were at a resort with an open buffet every night, and his future MIL really enjoyed it! So much that she gained a lot of weight in a week, and needed a new outfit. Now as I'd just lost weight, I was taking small amounts, not loading up my plate, and enjoying what I had. Because I ate slowly I could assess what I wanted to eat. I also had dessert, but not huge amounts, just a sample. My brother later came up to me and said that 'I should enjoy myself and eat what I wanted!' Ok, well I was. I was eating these gorgeous foods, but small amounts. So, when faced with a wedding or whatever, don't be pressured into eating. Look at what the slim folks do. They don't pile a plate up and eat it like it's going to vanish, they nibble on it. And if they want more, they get more. And if it runs out, well, never mind.

Eat slowly! This is very difficult when you are on a diet, but try. You should also avoid watching TV while you eat so you can focus on what you are eating.

Don't wear clothes with a stretch waist! I was given this tip by a woman who had been slim all her life. She said that the problem was that too many people wear stretch waists and don't notice when they gain weight. Yes, it's more comfortable, but if you get trousers that fit well with a solid waist band, then they can be comfortable. And if you gain a little weight you notice it, and are motivated to do something about it.

Buy clothes that fit. Never buy something you 'will slim into.' I've done that, I overshot the clothes and didn't wear them, or if I did buy a smaller size, discovered that didn't suit my slimmer frame. Also, if you wear too small clothes you will look fatter than you are, as it squeezes your fat into strange areas. If you are larger and want to look better, don't get oversized clothes either! You want them to work with you. Try on lots of styles, which I know can be depressing, until you find styles that suit you, and make you feel good.

Don't push it. Your body will have a natural weight that will be easy to maintain, and you might not be able to get under it. Find a weight that suits you, and make sure you eat healthily. Your body will know. Don't put pressure on yourself to reach your goal weight if you're just a few pounds off, that will lead to you feeling depressed about it.

Exercise. This doesn't have to be a chore. Just get moving! Start small, with a walk, and build it up. Stupid things like going upstairs to the loo rather than to the downstairs toilet can help, and when you do something, do it with energy.

Don't deny yourself snacks. Just look at what you are eating and when, and cut down what you buy. If you are a chocoholic, try dark chocolates, if you buy from different regions then you really will be amazed at the different tastes! But start with the lower percentages (60%) and if it doesn't state the percentage of chocolate, then it's probably rubbish.

And assess when you eat. Try to break behaviours built up over years. That's key!

And finally: Don't go back to your old habits. You can never eat like you did again, and you must keep up the exercise. Being slimmer is not an excuse to chow down, you need to keep eating things that are good for you, with the odd treat. I found that out recently when my depression eating became a habit again, and now I have to get rid of some weight (thankfully not too much, but any is bad), so I'm back to being really strict. Just remember, find yourself a plan for life, not for the losing weight part.  So don't eat that extra biscuit. Just don't.

It should be said though, that if you are planning to go on a diet and exercise, talk to your doctor first. This system may not be suitable for everyone as well, you need to find a way that works for you. But whatever you do, don’t give up, don’t stop. 


Now available at Amazon:

*Hangman: An unflinching look at what happens when suicide invades people's lives, and the damage it does.
*Loser's Club: A novel about cats, murder, love and not love, envy, hate, and above all, losers.
*Tube Life: Join Angel as she tries to navigate life, love and the London Underground.
*Writer: Explore the dark recesses of a writer's mind, where horror is never far from reality.

GeorgeEBirch.com
dragoncity publishing

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Gary Numan, Leeds O2, 19/9/11

Went to see Gary Numan at the Leeds O2 last night.

First up was Jayce Lewis, we missed most of the set as we weren't too bothered, so walked in to find a Gary Numan clone stood on stage. It took a moment for me to convince myself that it wasn't Mr. Numan, he was dressed identically to him with a black mop of hair...and as I don't know everything Gary has written.... his set was pretty good though, although I'm sure Mr. Numan had something to say about him raiding his wardrobe...

Short set break, then Gary himself. which was a relief as it shut up the fog horn shouts of 'Numan!' from the now beered-up crowd. Which was actually quite a good range of ages, I would say we were the median age.

He was amazing, a lot of the set were from his new album 'Dead Son Rising', which is a terrific album, we got it literally two days before so had been listening to it intensely so we at least recognised some of it! As usual his voice was brilliant, and apart from a couple of quiet sections was very clear.

There was a little too much fog on stage at times, but the visuals at the back of the stage were very stunning. I especially liked the 'news wall' version that came with the song 'Absolution', very well done. Although I still want to know what the freaky deformed blob was that kept appearing, couldn't make it out!

He ended with a great trio, starting with 'Cars', and finishing with 'Are 'Friends' Electric?', which is just stunning with a piano. the clip is in two parts because I wanted to *cough* dance, but then decided to hell with it. So listen, but don't get too car sick of the movement...

For the set list, see: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/gary-numan/2011/o2-academy-leeds-leeds-england-3d01df3.html































Now available at Amazon:

*Hangman: An unflinching look at what happens when suicide invades people's lives, and the damage it does.
*Loser's Club: A novel about cats, murder, love and not love, envy, hate, and above all, losers.
*Tube Life: Join Angel as she tries to navigate life, love and the London Underground.
*Writer: Explore the dark recesses of a writer's mind, where horror is never far from reality.

GeorgeEBirch.com
dragoncity publishing

Monday, 19 September 2011

Loser's Club

You can join the Loser's Club! Ok, you don't get much, but it is free, and well, what do you expect from a Loser's Club?
You get a nice PDF emailed back to you with fun stuff in it.

Go to http://www.dragoncity.co.uk/losers.htm




Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer
*Tube Life

dragoncity publishing

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Loser's Club

We've just started a new campaign to promote Loser's Club. If you go to the main page (http://www.dragoncity.co.uk/losersclub ), you'll see there has bee a lot added to it, including new adverts, and a great little game! Enjoy!

We're also going to be handing out a great fun set of business cards.




Designed by someone in the office whom I'm sure is not all there, they profile a different loser from the books.

They are amazing little works of art in their own right, and the game is tastefully called...Bottom Trumps.

*Sigh* and I have to work with these people...

Look out for the cards...

Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer
*Tube Life

dragoncity publishing

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Fart

Art is a strange thing, because it means different things to different people.

When I did my art degree I was pretty much the only realist (ie what I created looked like it should), and I was very much slated for it. What was preferred was if you brought in a pile of dung and let it rot. That would have been considered 'mainstream' to be honest.

I produced a piece of work a week, most people barely created one in three years in time for their exhibition.  I then waited for someone to look at it, before realising no-one ever would, and destroyed them. Total waste of time.

I started to realise that the point of a lot of the art was the concept, the more radical it was the better.

Nothing was clearer than when I wrote a Star Trek the Next Generation quote on the wall. My tutor came over, and seeing the abbreviation STTNG in my poor handwriting, mistranslated it as 'Sting' and went on to compliment the depth of the quote. If she had had the actual context I have no doubt she would have criticised me.

Art was mainly about show, rather than about actually breaking boundaries and saying something. Although there is plenty of good stuff out there, I still cringe at a lot of it.



Now available at Amazon:

*Hangman: An unflinching look at what happens when suicide invades people's lives, and the damage it does.
*Loser's Club: A novel about cats, murder, love and not love, envy, hate, and above all, losers.
*Tube Life: Join Angel as she tries to navigate life, love and the London Underground.
*Writer: Explore the dark recesses of a writer's mind, where horror is never far from reality.

GeorgeEBirch.com
dragoncity publishing

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Bad manners

Bad manners seem to be invading our society. The 'it's all about me' set don't seem to understand that they don't have the right to do what they want, but they continue anyway.

And even my friends, who are generally a civilised bunch can't understand that if you are with someone, it's polite to put away the mobile phone.

I don't want to return to the stuffy days of agonising ritual, but it would just be nice if Miss Pink Corsa Trim didn't barrel her way out of the junction while ignoring my polite wave and if she just gave me some kind of hint she was grateful, or if equally she would let me out without stonewalling me totally. If she did, then just perhaps the traffic would move a little faster, and perhaps Mr No Brain would not see the need to pull into the middle of the junction when the lights change, stopping everyone...

We need to look after each other, if we did, this world would be so much better. Or at the least the roads might not be so bad.



Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer
*Tube Life

dragoncity publishing

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Choosing character names

Character names are the hardest thing in the world to get right. Names shape a person, my name, George, for example, suggests a man, when you realise I am a woman it changes to a tomboy. Or a lesbian.

I always have trouble with names, and after years of struggling, I came across the perfect solution. I bought a book of baby names. Stupid, I know, but it has the advantage of giving you a description of the meaning of the names as well.

I also found a book of surnames, which also includes the meaning of names. So from that point on, I try to find little 'in' jokes in the names.

In Writer (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004VA3VJC) the main character is called John Notre, which as I'm sure you have guessed translates as to write, to note, etc.

I also started off with just Jackie and John, and decided to link the main character names with the letter J. I have to confess there is no real reason for this, just that I quite liked the idea, and as most writer's know, once an idea gets hold it can be quite unshakeable.

Loser's Club (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Losers-Club-ebook/dp/B0055EKY34), uses the name Cera. Again, a French name! But I liked it because it means red, and fiery one, a complete contrast to the character, who is weak and meek.

Often I just pick names because they remind me of someone. I always try to make them sound like a real person though, and although I like a good joke, I would try to avoid being too obvious about it, unless it was the tone of the book to give the characters names that were amusing.


Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer
*Tube Life

dragoncity publishing

Friday, 2 September 2011

Bullying


I was bullied at school, and I bullied at school. There you go, the unpleasant revelation is out, I was a bully for a short time, but for the majority of my school career I was at the bottom of the pile being shat on from a great height.

I was so low in the scheme of things that even my friends bullied me. But I can see why it happens.

For a start, you need a weak an vulnerable person. That was me, I was always a lonely child, and when I got friends they were hardly supportive of me.

Then you need someone who has inadequacies in their own life. That was my friends, they were twins, and always competing with each other. When they had problems, I was their kicking bag.

With no support I sank slowly, and it didn't help that I had no clue about clothes etc. Add to all that the thrill of being a bully. It gives you power, wipes out your inadequate as you pile it onto your hapless victim.

So what is the solution to bullies? Counselling. Not just for the bullies, but for the victims. If someone had just talked through my issues at an earlier age, I may just have been a different person today. Although having said that I like myself now, so perhaps things worked out. Just a little too late.

I tackle this in my book, Hangman, which is about this period in my life. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hangman-ebook/dp/B0053KHX8O/


Now available at Amazon:
*Loser's Club
*Hangman
*Writer
*Tube Life

dragoncity publishing