Monday, February 28, 2011

Dyscalculia Day March 3rd

This Thursday is Dyscalculia Day. For those of you who don't know - My name is Nell and I have a maths disability.
Dyscalculia, a disorder which primarily effects a person's ability to work with numbers and mathematical concepts, is a virtually unknown learning disabilty. It is so little known, in fact, that World Dyscalculia Day was not started by a research institution or large non-profit advocacy group -- we dysclaculics don't have any of those in or corner (yet!). World Dyslcalculia Day is a grassroots effort by members of the Dyscalculia Forum online community. World Dyscalculia Day is as effort by dyscalculics, for dyscalculics, to educate others about this learning disability. Dyscalculia is defined by a person's difficulty with numbers and arithmetical concepts. It's estimated (by people who are good at that sort of thing) that between 4% and 6% of the world's population has dyscalculia, but that only 1% has even heard of the disorder.

People with dyscalculia struggle to perform everyday tasks, such as remembering addresses and phone numbers, figuring a tip at a restaurant, or determining exactly what that "10% OFF!" sale will get them. We tend to transpose digits (reading 67 for 76), invert digits (reading 6 for 9), or just get plain confused (3 and 8 might look like the same symbol to a dyscalculic). All that, and we haven't even talked about using numbers to do actual math!

Notice how Dyscalculia Day is on March 3rd -- 3/3? That's because it allows us to safely get the day and month confused (and we will ... we will) -- but we can't screw it up.
It isn't just 'not being good at maths' it is about a real disorder that spills over into areas of everyday life. I can't text, use a cashpoint machine, remember phone numbers or my car registration number. I can't read a digital clock and have to have a calculator where the keys and the numbers on the keys are clearly marked out in different colours so they don't blend into the background. On a bad day, I'm worse when I'm tired or stressed, I can't remember my own birthday. It affects my spatial awareness, I can't tell left from right and my job share partner is perpetually baffled and amused by my complete inability to process even simple directions or to remember my way to and from somewhere.It affects co-ordination and balance - that spatial awareness thing again.
People with dyscalculia aren't stupid - I have four professional qualifications, a string of GCSE and A levels but I can't remember a pin number for a card and frequently get dates and appointment times scrambled.
Some of the explanation above came from the Dyscalculia Forum
I'm not alone, many famous people also have dyscalculia, Cher, Mary Tyler Moore, Henry Winkler,Benjamin Franklin, and Hans Christian Anderson, even Einstein struggled with basic maths.
If you, or someone you know is dyscalculic please visit the forum and raise awareness of Dyscalculia. If it's cool for the Fonz to admit it then I can too - I'm Nell and I have dyscalculia.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Guest blogger - Meet Deborah Melanie!

Deborah is a newly published writer from the UK. I've invited her along to tell us about herself and her new book, 'Winter's Spirit' out now from Solstice Publishing
Here is Deborah's bio:
As I child I loved to create my own stories. I entered my first story writing competition at the age of eleven, but didn't return to writing until many years later. In the past I have worked as a reviewer, but my first love lies with creating my own characters. Thanks to the encouragement of my husband, I am making a life long dream come true.

Deborah kindly agreed to be interviewed;

Tell us why you chose to write this particular story? As someone who grew up in a close knit community, I wanted to write a story about a similar place. Batlington (the fictional community in my book) is much more of a town, than my village is, but I wanted to convey the friendliness of the people and their close relationships. This story also encapsulates a lot of the ingredients I enjoy in book. It made sense to write about a subject close to my heart.

And which authors do you like reading? I enjoy a mixture of authors from JR Ward to Suzanne Brockmann. Occasionally I will dip into a thriller or a gory murder story.

Do you write in silence or to music? As for writing in silence, well.... I wish I could find silence in my house LOL. There's always a lot of background noise, especially from the children, but from time to time, I do like to write with some music on.

What are you working on next? Winter McAndrew, my heroine in Winter's Spirit has three sisters, so I do have plans to tell their stories. I'm currently working on something different, but it's still set in Yorkshire, so I get lots of opportunity to imagine all the beautiful countryside.

If you could choose two fictional characters to take out to dinner, who would you choose and why? If I could dine out with two fictional characters, it would be with Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre and Eustacia from Colleen Gleason's vampire stories. I imagine that Mr. Rochester would make some excellent choices from the wine list and Eustacia would provide some fascinating stories from all her vampire hunting experiences.

Thanks, Deborah - Here is the blurb and a short excerpt from Winter's Spirit:
Winter McAndrew is on the brink of divorcing her philandering husband, Philip, when he dies in a car crash. One year later and with unfinished business; Philip is still earth bound and interfering in his wife’s love life. Trying to make amends isn't always easy when you're dead. Not only has Winter fallen for her old crush, Jack Tobin, but he also happens to be Philip’s cousin. With more complications than a woman needs at Christmas, Winter tries to find peace at her holiday home in The Lake District. However, when she finds herself snowed in with Jack; ghosts, old and new cause quite a stir. Will Winter get her man, or will ghostly Philip put an end to all her festive fantasies?


“That’s why you’re here isn’t it?” he felt ashamed. “You wanted to feel closer to Philip? I’m sorry. You must miss him a whole lot more at this time of year. You need your privacy. I should go.” Turning away, he placed his key on the small table by the door.
“Jack, wait. I’ve a whole bottle of your wine open and I’ve made far too much casserole. The least I can do is thank you with a good meal for looking after things.” Her hand reached out to touch his arm. Even through the warmth of the parker, it felt like a searing hot heat. “At least stay and eat with me. You’ve had a long drive here, you must be tired.”
Every survivalist instinct told him to keep walking. The idea of being alone in The Lake District with her, felt far more than his body could take. If he did stay, he’d either need to keep the parker on all night, or hide behind the dining table. Erections and widowed friends just wasn’t a combination he felt willing to explore. Damn it.
He turned to look at her. She seemed vulnerable; a lonely friend mourning her husband. He had no right. Yet this friend also just happened to be wrapped in a colourful quilt which brought out the green in her eyes, the pinkness in her lips and the slight blush on her cheeks. You’re setting yourself up for a fall, Tobin. “That’d be great. A good meal should set me up for the journey back.”
She smiled. “Great. Now if you’d grab the mop and clear up your snow, I’ll get some clothes on. I’m hardly dressed for guests.”
As she made her way upstairs, he smiled. She looked fine to him. Beautiful in fact.

To order Deborah's book click the link at the top to Solstice Publishing, and thank you Deborah for being my guest here - it's great to meet other sweet writers!

Friday, February 25, 2011

An Evening With Mr Darcy

Fab night last night at Dudley Central Library. Huge thanks to the librarians who had recreated a regency tea room complete with gorgeous cakes. There was a Jane Austen quiz with prizes and a wonderful excerpt by Dudley Little Theatre of their upcoming performance of Pride and Prejudice.
It was great to see so many people there - standing room only at one point!
Sadly, the delectable Mr Firth was absent but a good time was had by all anyway and you can still catch DLT's version of Pride and Prejudice at the beginning of March at Netherton Arts Centre - I highly recomend it!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Strange sensations

All day today my psychic warning system has been twanging and I've felt very spacey and disconnected from things. Most peculiar. I think I need to slow down a little - okay, I know, the chorus of 'I told you so's' is even reaching me from here. I do promise to be good and in fairness I do try and plan out what I'm doing both in my day job and in my writing life. It's simply been that both have been incredibly busy for the last few months, and as Mum to three teenage girls, family life is always pretty hectic too.
I have a couple of days holiday left to take so I've booked those so I can spend time with the belles and sort out some of my admin and I promise I will take a break too.
In the meantime why not check out Making Waves or some of my lovely fellow authors books over at Astraea Press

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Catching my breath!

It's all been a bit mad lately. First I had the release of Making Waves from Astraea Press Have you got your copy yet? How about now? You can read it on kindle and now on a Nook too. Anyway, then I sold Dangerous to Know to Astraea too - this is one of my slightly longer novella's that was previously in print from Moonlit Romance. There was the launch of Brief Encounters and the announcement of our upcoming anthology of short romantic stories. The news that Just Look at Me Now had won an award, a radio interview for BBC radio West Midlands defending libraries and next week I've been asked to help at 'Meeting Mr Darcy'. This is a fab event being staged on Thursday 24th Feb at 7.30 at Central Library in Dudley. Excerpts from Pride and Prejudice performed by Dudley Little Theatre and a chat from me talking about historical influences on contemporary fiction.
Today I also packed up the wonderful Betty Neels rosebowl that's been sitting on my windowsill for the last year so the new recipient can get it at the RNA Pure Passion Awards in March. There are some wonderful books and authors shortlisted this year and I know whoever wins will have a truly magical time. I feel so very honoured and privileged to have been lucky enough to win the prize twice, it changed the course of my writing career.

Monday, February 14, 2011

An award for Just Look at Me Now!

Wow! I just learned that 'Just Look at Me Now' is the winner of the Catanetwork single titles reviewers choice of the year award as one of the best books they reviewed in 2010

A new place for romance

You remember that secret project? The small one I was so excited about? Well, here it is Visit Here

Happy Valentines!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Making Waves out Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the big day! Apart from it being my birthday, you can get your copy of Making Waves from Astraea Press or if you own a kindle you can visit Amazon!
Here's what the reviewers said about it first time around.

Making Waves by Nell Dixon is a most wonderful read. The emotions of the characters really stand out pulling the reader into the storyline. Josh and Cassidy are compassionate and warm who have had bad relationships in the past. The reader shares their sorrows and the way they wish to break any barriers that keep them from finding real love. Ms. Dixon creates a beautifully told read that spins the heart with love in a terrific summer romance that is sweet, romantic and awe-inspiring, don’t miss this one.
5 Angels from Fallen Angels Fallen Angels

Ms. Dixon has a knack for creating characters who are living and breathing to the reader. She paints us a picture of a wonderful summer romance. From Robyn at Once Upon a Romance 4 stars Once Upon a Romance

Josh and Cass are very sympathetic characters who both got a raw deals in long term relationships. They are employer and employee, but really did not get to know each other until this holiday. I enjoyed reading about both of them trying to enjoy their stay and at first enduring and then enjoying the other’s presence. This is a very sweet love story.
4 coffee cups from Maura at Coffeetime Romance Coffeetime Romance

Still not sure? Here's the blurb!
Cassidy Jones needs a holiday and her friend's cottage in New Bay sounds perfect. The beach could heal the bruises from losing her job and her fiancé. Perfect for some time alone to gather her thoughts and heal her broken heart.
Josh Parker is also looking forward to a much needed break after eighteen months of non-stop work. His out of town friend offers her cottage and Josh thinks it would be just right for some time to let his hair down and revive his social life with his old surf buddy's.
One cottage, two unsuspecting occupants, a recipe for romance or disaster?