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Sunday, 24 July 2011

Holiday 'fun'.

Whoopee.  The school holidays are here.  Bunt out the hangings...

Do I sound a little underwhelmed?  There is a very good reason for this - in fact, there are several.

1.  Simply getting into town to do my shopping now takes at least 60% longer.  Some may say that this is my own fault for living in the kind of picturesque place that other people come to take their holidays - which it is - but it is still incredibly annoying when you've only popped out for a packet of Giant Chocolate Buttons and a tin of catfood and find yourself in a queue of slow moving traffic as the tourists stop every twenty yards to take pictures.

Yeah, cute.  But they eat tourists you know.

2.  The children are on holiday.  I know, the clue is in the title, School Holidays.  And being that I work in a school and everything, this should be a time of high rejoicing, of long leisurely mornings and late nights over bottles of wine.  What it actually is, is a series of linked cries of 'can we go to...(insert name of expensive entertainment here)' 'have we got any ...(insert name of chocolate biscuit here)', or intricate arrangements with friends which involve careful dove-tailing of diaries to ensure that I am not expected to appear in several places simultaneously, like a kind of rule-breaking Doctor Who figure with less bouffy hair.  Seriously though, his hair is really bouffy...

No.  We haven't.

3.  Or iii) as anyone with a classical education prefers to think of it.  There are children everywhere.  Okay, so I am responsible for some of them, but there are far more of them on the streets than I can possibly be called to account for.  Honestly, you even see them coming out of DIY shops.  What on earth can children be doing in a DIY shop?   Are they stocking up on plasterboard and rawl plugs for a little wacky mayhem, a la Enid Blyton's epic 'Five Go to Reality TV'?  Once I have gained the High Street of my aforementioned choosing, still in search of those Giant Chocolate Buttons and catfood, I now find myself having to weave through crowds of youthful cacklers, grubby faced and baggy of trouser, all sharing one IPhone to listen via multi-way headphones to a tinny rendition of Last Night of the Proms.  Shocking.

Tears before bedtime, I tell you.

4.  It's not fair.  Whinge whinge.  Moan.  Complain.  Yes, I really do sound like this.  For, although it is the holidays, although the sun is shin... although the weather is ho... although it isn't actually hailing and the rain is only coming down in sheets occasionally, I still have to work.  For the Blog Tour continues apace, I am about to visit the Love Romance Passion blog in my latest bid for world domination (check in there if you are following my competition to win one of three copies of Star Struck!), I have a new WIP which must be hosed down, scrubbed up and buffed if it is to be ready for your delectation, and, let's face it, someone has to do the washing up.

And now you must excuse me.  I have to pack my all-weather supplies, my shotgun and my endurance pants and head to town, we've run out of catfood again.  Maybe I'll get some chocolate biscuits this time...

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The 'No Duck Tape, Honestly' Blog Tour

Okay people, listen up.

Oh, all right, in your case you can listen down, but just this once.  And no other exceptions, right?  No, you at the back, you are not allowed to listen diagonally.  No, I don't care about your leaning disorder.  Just prop yourself the other way, this is important. Particularly if you wish to win one of three copies of the Document known hereafter as 'Starstruck' (or, to keep this from prying eyes, simply The Book).

This is about my Blog Tour.  Here's a map.

Now, in order to advance here , firstly we need to make sure all positions here and here are secured.  Are you following?  Because there will be chocolate...  So, to that end, firstly we have annexed the blog run by those squirrels at The Nut Press.  This could be a tricky manoeuvre on account of the acorns, but we've managed to secure our position on Monday 18 July.  This is particularly important to anyone wishing to win a copy of the said Book.  For there will be clues implanted in all Blog Tour posts (in the form of CAPITALISED WORDS), which must be followed in order to capture...I mean, to win, yes, win, there will be no capturing, no tying to chairs and absolutely NO, and I repeat, NO Duck Tape... Look upon it as a sort of Enigma Device, dreamed up by someone with a serious cheese habit, veins running with liquid chocolate and after three bottles of Chateau Horse, all right.

Clues.  Yes.  There will be words.  Words which must be collected, carefully excised from the script, decanted into matchboxes and gently preserved; fingers lovingly dwelling upon each and every syllable, until the final blog tour post, upon which date all these words may be once more revealed unto daylight, rearranged into an order that makes sense to yourself, dear reader, and the question thus posed answered.  When you have found your military solution, then it must be mailed forthwith to the lovely people at Choc Lit, who will enter you to win one of the copies of the Secure Document, and then there's nothing else to do but sit back, invade any small countries of your choosing, and wait around your letterbox for a large plop.

If your letterbox looks like this then you are not expecting a book, you are expecting Blue Tits.

Right. So.  Do we have our strategy straight?  Blog tour, posts, capitalised words, anagram, answer, suspicious egg stains, funny smell, moist... yep, I think that's everything covered.  So now it only remains for me to allow you access to the secret document that is the Blog Tour itinerary.  Take care and cover your ears, for some of these are slightly explosive...

18 July The Nut Press  (watch out for walnuts, those squirrels are demons)
25 July LoveRomancePassion (good for a quick snog)
01 August Dizzy C's Little Book Blog (who has given me a Birthday Honour..I'm so touched...)
08 August Katy Little Lady's blog (which has gone blue.  No idea why.  No reflection, I'm sure)
An interview with Novelicious on 11 August (that one's purple again.  Odd...)
15 August DebsDayDreams (brought to you from a shed.  Yep.  Shed.  But the biscuits are nice.)
22 August Lucie Wheeler's blog (she makes me laugh. Must take my reinforced pants)
29 August I breathe a huge sigh of relief (as do you all) and finish my blog tour at Choc Lit.

Now, places people please.  I want you over here, pushing these model planes around on this board that I've painted to look just like Middle Earth, you can talk into these headphones using words like 'Alpha Bravo Charlie Tango' (no, I don't know what they mean either, but it's apparently essential), and you... well, looking at you I'm not sure what to do with you.  You can be in charge of uniforms or something.

This is it, folks.  This is what we're all fighting for...  Now, be careful out there!

And remember what I said about the Duck Tape.

Monday, 11 July 2011

RNA Conference - the most fun you can have with your clothes

Well.  That was exciting, wasn't it?  Or at least it was for those of us who were there, the rest of you will just have to use your imaginations...  Never, in the field of socialisation, have so many surrendered their normally solitary lives for the greater good - when daily life is normally spent talking to the same few people (who already know that amusing story you tell about the milk bottle and the mouse) or to completely imaginary people (who rarely talk back, unless the medication needs updating), suddenly being released into a room full of new ears is heady stuff indeed!  There are now nearly no members of the esteemed RNA who do not know the story of the milk bottle and the mouse, due to the many, many bottles of what I was assured was nearly non-alcoholic wine.  Some of them may have heard it several times.  At volume.

Anyway.  I promised to give a photographic run down of our weekend and it started like this:

Newport railway station.  Actually it started some eight hours before when I arose like the dead from my bed and drove to York to catch the train that ended up in Newport.  But you really don't want to see pictures of that.  Honestly.  Imagine The Corpse of Dracula crossed with the Hair Bear Bunch, it was like that.  So.  Newport.  And then...

... this happened.  And it kept on happening.  I blame Kate Johnson.  Because it was all her fault.

Oh, there were other things too, wonderful talks, terrific food, fabulous frocks, and the rest of the Choc Lit girls.

Here we are, 'enjoying a joke' as they used to say about the debutantes in Country Life.  Actually I think we might have been contemplating the joys of wine-yet-to-come, but we were happy about it, whatever it was.
In the picture are:  Me (who needs no introduction, because half way through the 'this is Ja...' I'm usually bounding up to the introducee like a Labrador whose lead has come off and demanding to know what is their favourite kind of biscuit), the previously mentioned Kate Johnson, Christina Courtney,  Sue Moorcroft, 
Evonne Wareham, and Margaret James. 

Also present, but not pictured, was Chris Stovell.  She was definitely there, though.  I mean, I know you can have wine-induced hallucinations, but surely not that vividly.

And then there was more of this - 

Sometimes en masse, like this -

And then it all got a bit.... well...

And the next thing I knew, some kind people had bundled me up and rolled me down a hill, and when I managed to open my eyes, I saw

and then my house.

So, to all the lovely, lovely people at the RNA (some of whom are pictured here, including the delectable Talli Roland) - let's do it all again next year!  (Only, maybe a bit less wine?  Maybe just the ten bottles...?)

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Disenbumulated author captured in monochrome!

Lately I have had much cause to ponder the saying 'can't be arsed'. 

Think about it.  Dwell, if you will, on the many levels of meaning of this simple saying.  Superficially it appears to mean that one (meaning me, in this instance) is unable to be fitted with nether regions, somewhat along the line of 'pin the tail on the donkey'. Yes, imagine me under hot pursuit, racing around a field, followed doggedly by a personage who is determined to re-enarsulate me; carrying, if you will, a complete set of buttocks in one hand and a small net, or possibly a tranquiliser dart, in the other.  I am shrieking and waving my hands in the air (because this is my normal activity when chased, I am the campest runner-away you have ever seen, unless you have ever tried to capture Graham Norton using only a set of balloon animals and a large bag of Haribo) and shouting 'no, no!  You cannot arse me!'

Approximately the sight you will see accelerating away from you...

However, in this instance, when I say I can't be arsed, I simply mean that I cannot be bothered.  So, why do I not come right out and admit this?  Why does telling the world that I'm not arsed feel so much more 'go-getting' than the lack-lustre 'pfffftt'?  Hmmmm?

However.  I have, and completely without bottom, managed to drag my carcass out to have its photograph taken.  This involved much moaning and complaining, whining, whingeing and bribery, but eventually I got the photographer to stop and to point his camera at me.  Now, I am not a natural photographic subject.  I write books for a reason - it enables me to stay indoors, eat chocolate at will, Google all kinds of things under the heading of 'research' (and yes, honestly, one day I am going to write a book about all those things I've Googled - I'm just going to have to be careful with the title, that's all) and not appear in public.  I try to avoid having my photograph taken, mostly because how I look when I'm on paper is not how I look from this side of my face , ie the inside.  However.  During this photographic session, certain images were captured which approximately matched the way that I think I look, although some of these were so soft focus that they did appear to be photographs of a piece of runny Brie, and now I can unveil these results!

Stare carefully, for tomorrow you may well be blind.

So, for services to photography above and beyond the call of duty, I recommend Phil at Fresh Photography for some kind of Sainthood.  Look carefully upon this visage, for next week it may well be bothering you at Caerleon, for next week is RNA Conference 2011!  I shall be roaming the Welsh countryside with complete disregard for my lack of backsidedness, grinning at passers-by!

You'll be able to recognise me, I'll be the only author there in black and white.