Zoë Sharp

Confession time. I last worked in an office environment—as in working for somebody else—twenty-five years ago. All I had on my desk back then was an electric typewriter and a landline telephone. The answering machine still had tape cassettes in it. I got to work in the mornings worked all day and went home at five-thirty.

OK, it was not without its occasional moments of drama, like the time I accidently got locked into the building one night and had to climb out of a upper-storey window and then scramble across rooftops to freedom. Or the time, one week into a new job, when the boss said, “Right, we’re off on holiday next week. If the bailiffs arrive while we’re away don’t let them take anything …”

But generally the biggest no-nos were arriving late or sneaking off early. People didn’t even leave their desks to have a smoke. In fact I used to work sandwiched between two people who both chain-smoked and would leave cigarettes burning in their ashtrays while they nipped out on some errand. They didn’t like it when I stubbed them out in their absence. My excuse was if I had to smoke passively while they were around then I was damned if I was going to do it while they weren’t.

My how things have changed. (Eeh, I remember when all this were fields, etc.)

And when I set up in business on my own as a freelance photojournalist back in 1988 my word processor was an Amstrad 9512 that had no internal memory and required the insertion of a Start-of-Day disk to remember what it was in the mornings.

If there was a mouse anywhere near it, it would have looked like this:

I was pretty technologically advanced by owning a computer at all I can tell you! Not to mention my Motorola brick phone. Groovy, man.

Distractions were simpler in those days. They involved staring out of the window:

And game of solitaire meant shuffling the deck before you began:

Early computer games were not exactly Call of Duty:

But now we’re overwhelmed with daily distractions. If it wasn’t for rapidly encroaching deadlines could spend so long getting sidetracked every day I could practically walk like a crab:

But that can sometimes be a good thing, and I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite time-wasting sites:

They Fight Crime!

“He’s a shy zombie photographer trapped in a world he never made. She’s a supernatural French-Canadian bodyguard who inherited a spooky stately manor from her late maiden aunt. They fight crime!”


I’m hopeless at crossword puzzles, but somehow I can’t leave this one alone.

Internet Movie DataBase

Always on my favourites’ list for when I want to know obscure facts. Did you know that Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, director of The Tourist is 6’8¾”?

What is your Pro Wrestling Name?

Mine came out as Full Metal Darkshadow, or the Diva alternative was Titanic Callgirl. How about you?

But just in case wrestling is not your thing, how about your Blues Name? Mine’s Steel Eye Davis.

So help me out here—or sink me deeper—what procrastination aids do you use to while away the help you concentrate while you’re mulling over a storyline?

And please excuse the BSP but the new trade paperback edition of KILLER INSTINCT: Charlie Fox book one, complete with Foreword by Lee Child, is now available. Hurrah!

‘Susie Hollins may have been no great shakes as a karaoke singer, but I didn’t think that was enough reason for anyone to want to kill her.’

“The bloody bar fights are bloody brilliant”―Marilyn Stasio, New York Times

This week’s Word of the Week is librocubicularist, which is someone who reads in bed.

And finally, don’t miss out on six free e-books by top authors including Murderatos past and present JD Rhoades and Alexandra Sokoloff, plus CJ Lyons, Karen Dionne, Grant MacKenzie and Keith Raffel. Feb 20-22nd! Get ’em while they’re hot!


18 thoughts on “Sidetracked

  1. Sarah W

    I would wrestle under the moniker Full Metal Earthquake, which is remarkably apt, and play the blues as Blind Fingers Bailey, which is also appropriate. How do they *know*?

    While I let my subconscious do the heavy lifting (this sounds so much better than procrastination), I play Words With Friends, lose countless games of Polar Pool with my 10 year-old, and plug poems and things into Wordle ( — I’m thinking of making the Beowulf one into a cross stitch sampler . . .

  2. Reine

    Oh… damn. None of my wrestling names are acceptable for publication. And you know me, I'll use most any word I like.

    I play WWF unceasingly with my childhood friend. Not a waste of time. Not at all. it's lightning. Informative. And we make really good jokes by fictionalizing the words we use in relation to the patterns on our game screen. We have a huge portfolio of stories, complete with engaging characters, developed entirely through our brilliant WWF plays… um… never mind.

  3. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Sarah. I hadn't come across Wordle. I checked out the site and am still not quite sure how that one works. I Googled Polar Pool and as well as the game I came across a company in Suffolk who do actually install swimming pools … 🙂

    Hey, maybe we should form a blues band!

  4. PD Martin

    Facebook is currently my only/main indulgence. Do you count the washing the dishes and doing the laundry?? Although with only about 12-15 hours available writing time a week, I tend to ditch everything but the writing at the moment.

    I'm not even going to find out what my wrestler name would be…no I'm not!

  5. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Reine

    Funny but I've never got into the online interactive games. Scruzzleword is about as far as I go. Now I'm intrigued to hear about your pro wrestling name, though. Not to mention what on earth this WWF thing is about …

    Your blues name would be Dog Hopkins, though. Sounds cool to me :))

Comments are closed.