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Thursday, 29 April 2010

Brain mice and thought cheese

I find myself having to coax concentration from my brain, like someone coaxing mice into a trap.  Hence the title of this blog.  You thought I was losing it, didn't you, go on, admit it.  You thought I just typed random words in the attempt to lure people into reading this, but that's just silly, if I did that then the title would be Boscombe tuna leaf weather, which in itself is a pretty good title but it doesn't really mean.... Hey!  It happened again!

Ooh, nice shoes.

I can't help it, my mind wanders.  I start off with a good idea and suddenly I remember that I've got to wash the car and where did I put that suet, and then the phone rings and next thing I know it's Boscombe tuna leaf weather again.  I make lists, you know.  Lots of lists.  And one day I'll find where I keep putting them. I'll open a cupboard and be hit with all the things I should have done over the past twenty years, and every one of those lists will start  'Put On Trousers'.  I'd be an absent minded professor if I hadn't kept forgetting to go to my science classes, so I decided the only thing to do was to become a writer, because you're allowed to be absent minded if you're a writer and besides, if you work at home you don't have to worry about forgetting your trousers.  And, as a plus, I also work in a science department where everyone ELSE is absent minded and probably wouldn't notice if I did forget my trousers.  They'd probably just ask me where I got those woolly pink tights from.  Until I explained that those were my legs.

Perhaps my mind is just too full.  Yes, that will be it.  I'm so full of good ideas and interesting thoughts for writing that I've got no room left for proper thinking.  Which is why I can't remember my own phone number or what I had for lunch but I can remember the total plotline for my latest work in progress, plus the heroine's entire life history.  Yes, that's it.  I'm too busy being a genius to think about real life...

Oooh, nice shoes.

This is my brain.  On a good day.  On a bad day, there's less cheese.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

I have an Idea...

There I was, prancing along through my day wearing a snappy yet carefree little outfit and with my hair blowing in the breeze (if you need a picture just watch any fabric softener commercial), when I was asked 'where do you get your ideas from?'  And there was me desperate for something to blog about - well, it was like a gift!

Actually, I get my ideas from a little shop in York, fifty pee each or a dozen for a fiver, which I think is quite a bargain.  Some of them even come with 'user's tips' like 'don't feed after midnight' or 'worse than anybody's aunt', which are handy.  Why I use this shop is anyone's guess, for ideas are like litters of kittens; everywhere, free to good homes and often arrive when you least expect them because your cat is called Rambo and eats Rotweilers.

All you need to catch these ideas is a brain like a net with very small holes, and all writers are already in possession of these.  A writer's brain lets very little escape, except possibly the exact time of the last train or what it was that you originally came into the room for.

 All sorts of things become enmeshed in the..err... mesh, and quite a lot of these will turn into stories if left unattended.  Who knows when that snippet that you overheard on the bus about the best way to make black pudding might come in handy?  So anyone interested in becoming a writer is well advised to go about their daily business with their brain set to 'trawl' and to take note of anything which sticks to the back of the net.  Some of my best ideas have come from misheard song lyrics, partially heard conversations and the interesting images you see when you are peering through binoculars at those very odd people in Number 39.

So, if you think of writers and the image of a Grimsby fishing boat comes to mind, don't be alarmed, it's perfectly natural.  If, on the other hand, when you think of writers you find yourself thinking about well-filled fishnet tights...well, that's not my fault and you probably need to get out more.  Try a bracing walk.  And stop taking those metaphors.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Blogging on blogging.

Right, brace yourselves people.  Today sees a double-helping of me.  Which either makes you very, very lucky or completely damned without redemption, but I'm choosing to see it as the former.

I was summoned to the blog of Choc Lit (those fragrant and special people I believe I may have mentioned, probably in CAPITAL LETTERS already), to give my viewpoint on the current state of my mind.  Oh, come on, they did ask...  I managed to produce what I consider to be a cogent and altogether enlightening window into my writing experience, and also a much lovelier photo than the one which is going to curse their author pages for many moon to come.  Mostly because it's not entirely of me, but also features Dog Number One, who in aforementioned photo is staring at the ground with a somewhat rabid expression but still manages to look better than I do.

Anyway.  Where was I? Oh yes, blogging.  Now I find myself blogging about blogging, which is probably something recursive, and if anyone out there finds themself blogging about my blog about blogging then you will probably disappear up your own HTML, and don't expect us to come looking for you if you're not back by tea-time.  So.  Go and have a look at my Choc Lit blog (it's all right, now I've warned you about the picture you can make sure you're looking somewhere else when that scrolls past, but for the love of God, have an empty stomach when you open the page, or an old blanket to throw over the screen, or something).  The other girls all have something interesting to say, and all I can do is to compare being published with the time a mouse ran up my trouser leg.  They will probably never ask me again.

On a lighter note, I've just opened a box of chocolates that I was given for Mother's Day.  And if you think that is odd, I've still got a box from Christmas, unopened!  But I'm keeping those in case of emergency.  You never know (as I have previously proved) when a mouse is going to run up your trousers and necessitate the opening of a large box of Thorntons.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Getting snappy

So, hand in hand with writing books comes selling myself.  You, at the back, out, now!  And stop sniggering.

So.  Off we go for a day out to the local forest, armed with a daughter who took AS Photography, another daughter who likes having her picture taken, two dogs who don't care one way or the other about pictures but heard the word 'walk', me and my husband.

Now, I don't know about you (of course I don't, we've never been formally introduced and I've made it a policy to ignore all gossip unless it's really juicy) but I'm not a big fan of having my picture taken.  From the inside of my face I'm wrinkle-free, perky and tremendously attractive, BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT THE PICTURES SAY.  So, I am presented with a selection of photos in which I look like an elderly chipmunk.  With a squint.

I try lying down, standing up, pushing all the skin of my face to the back of my head with both hands and being photographed in near darkness, but all to no avail, I now look like an elderly chipmunk with a squint and some kind of attention deficit.  So I instruct daughter to keep snapping and I'll choose the best result.  One entire camera-full later, and I come up with a choice of two pictures... TWO!  One of which makes me look a bit.... senile, and in the other I have seventeen chins - and these are the best of the batch.

But, on the plus side, I do have lots (and lots) of nice pictures of everyone else.  Even the dogs, it turns out, are more photogenic than me.  Sigh.  So.  I e-mail my chosen picture off to Choc Lit on a Saturday night, on the grounds that, by the time someone opens the mail it will be Monday morning and everyone knows there's nothing worse than a Monday morning, except, it now turns out,  a Monday morning that has an unexpected picture of me in it.  So, I apologise in advance, Tom at Choc Lit.  Try to have an open mind and an empty stomach when you check tomorrow's e-mails, I find it helps.

This is what I ended up with:  I've made it small to protect you.

In other news - I've signed up for an OU course in archaeology and finished reading Space Captain Smith by Toby Frost (who I met at last week's York Festival of Writing).  Thoroughly recommended and very funny.  That's the book, not the archaeology course.  Archaeology is not noted for it's giggles.  So I'm going to come as a bit of a shock to them, as well.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

I get a publishing deal.

Yes, people, you read it here first.  Unless you read it somewhere else first, of course.  Those lovely people (although I haven't met them all, you understand, but I'm taking it on trust that the ones I haven't met are actually people and not domesticated plovers or lemurs or anything) at Choc Lit have contracted my novel!  When I say they've contracted it, I do not mean they've made it so that you need a microscope in order to read it, I mean that they've BOUGHT IT.  For ACTUAL MONEY.  Good Lord.  I need a lie down.

I am, obviously, so beside myself with excitement that I am using myself as a mirror.

And so, as I cast one book adrift in the ether, I knuckle down to work.  Here (if you are in the least interested) is a list of Ten Things that Stop Me Writing Today.

1.  Wondering what that strange smell in here is.

2.  Investigating the source of the strange smell with a bucket of soapy water in one hand and a stick in the other (in case whatever is making the smell is still around).

3.  The arrival of the post, containing the Special Edition of Doctor Who Monthly.

4.  Continuing to investigate the smell, now with rolled up copy of Doctor Who Monthly (Special Edition) in place of stick.

5.  Accidentally dropping copy of Doctor Who Monthly (Special Edition) in  bucket of soapy water during under-cupboard manoevres.

6.  In attempt to rescue Doctor Who Monthly (Special Edition) from bucket, knocking over bucket and soaking carpet, trousers and cat, who promptly makes New Smell.

7.  Pacifying cat.

8.  Removing cat from trousers, trousers from me and soapy water from trousers.

9.  Putting now-naked knee in source of Original Smell.

10.  Putting other now-naked knee in source of New Smell.

The glamour of my life as a writer overcomes me, and I have to go for a nice lie down now.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

I come over all technological

Right, in the interests of honesty and not being divorced and everything, I have to confess that I, that is me, didn't do this.  My wonderful husband performed the actual button pressing actions, but I was behind him every step of the way and influencing things with my special 'influency powers' which are far better than, say, being able to swing from buildings or lift heavy weights.  Which are two things I never need to do. I do, however, regularly need to influence things like, say, making people believe that I am talking sense and that they are enjoying what they are reading.

Anyway.  Where was I?  Ah, yes.  My Blog has now become linked to my website, as inextricably as a terrier becomes linked to toffee, when the toffee has been left out in the sun on the floor and said terrier has been rolling on the carpet again.  So now, when you go to my website, you should come here instead.  What a little treat for you all!  And, all down the side of this aforementioned Blog, there are now buttons which, rather than making trousers fall down in a comical fashion, now lead to other pages on my website.

As far as I am concerned this has all been done with magic.  Theoretically I  understand that technology exists (how else could I speak to you, my assembled lovelies?) but I don't know how it actually works.  That's one of the problems with Being a Writer.  We need the technology for promotion and even to do the actual writing stuff, but we tend to believe that it all works by demon-magic and there are probably sacrifices involved.  Being a Writer and knowing all about the demon-magic are mutually exclusive to most of us.

So, to any writers out there who are reading this and haven't yet done so, find yourselves a Demon-Magic practitioner and persuade them to teach you the basic invocations.  Or, someone who can create you a web presence.  It doesn't have to be impressive, it just has to show the world that you exist.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

An introductory message to anyone out there

I've decided, in the interests of, well, not very much, me being bored and trying to avoid work and all that, to start a blog!  Now, don't all rush at once, I shall start off small and work my way up to the mind-blowing awesomeness that I know you've all come to expect from me.

I'll use the blog to trouble you about my writing, pester you into being interested in my upcoming works, and generally plague the life out of you with random wittering about my life, my teaching, writing generally, the weather and, you never know, maybe a bit of entertainment.

So.  My mission statement ends.  Live long and prosper (wasn't that a brilliant film?  Anyone seen Kick-Ass, that was pretty cool too.)  No, no, that bit isn't part of the mission statement.  Obviously.  Just up to the 'live long and prosper' bit.  Anyway.  That's the sort of thing you can expect here.  Rambling.