I am now offering a critique and manuscript assessment service. For further details, please e mail me at

Sunday, 30 December 2012

A retrospective on 2012, with pictures. Nice ones.

2012.  For some, just a collision of appealingly bendy numbers with a nice little straight line in for emphasis.  If this is how you feel about 2012, then may I suggest cryogenic suspension, because you are really going to love 3030.  But for others, by which I mean me, because, despite my many qualifications (I am also allowed to use a chainsaw, handle a bat, milk a cow and I have a certificate that says I can swim the length of a swimming baths, but don't hold me to that one), I am not qualified to speak for anyone else, it was a year.

A year of stuff.  A year in which I won some awards that look like this -

only with more dust.  My wonderful publishers Choc Lit published my book that looks like this -

and my wonderfully chucklesome grandson, Phoenix James, made his arrival into the world.  He, his parents and his aunts and uncle (that being my children, in case you'd got confused and had to resort to doing diagrams on the back of an envelope) spent Christmas chez moi, where I, and the increasingly mysterious Mr Q, entertained them with gifts, a series of inedible nibbles and Doctor Who.

We also went for walks, accompanied by Phoenix and his mum Becci and dad, Tom.  Here, Becci is indicating to me how big my bottom looks, when viewed from behind, Phoenix is admiring any scenery which does not contain my bottom, and Tom is trying to see out from underneath his hat.

And now that year is over, well nearly.  It is being carried to its end, borne on a litter of crumpled wrapping paper, the spat-out nuts from Quality Street, gnarly old ends of cheese and more pine needles than you could swear one tree could carry, and I find myself infused with a kind of ennuie.  You see, last year - well, it's still this year really, but it isn't looking at all well, and may not make it to the end of the week - was so successful, so damned fantastic and filled with wonderfulness and gorgeosity and amazing new can 2013 possibly compete?  How is it not going to come off looking a bit sad and saggy in comparison to a year that held Olympics, awards and new arrivals?

I considered the option of spending 2013 sulking, kicking table-legs and muttering "whatevah" when asked to do something, although I didn't rule out stamping upstairs, slamming some doors and refusing to tidy my room.  But then I went on a walk and looked at scenery like this -
all right, so we couldn't get the dog-kite to take off, but even so, it was lovely.  And I realised that, just because 2012 was an unsurmountably fantastic year, one which will never be bettered (unless someone actually does manage to dip Tony Robinson in caramel and gift wrap him), that doesn't mean that 2013 will not have its own spectacularness!

So, dear blog-reader (or, in reality, more likely someone who googled 'rubber knickers' and ended up here by mistake, looking through my pictures in search of something a little, those of you who have been following my adventures thus far - stay tuned!  For I can feel it in my water that 2013 will offer us yet more adventures, and I take this opportunity to thank you for your strong-stomached attendance upon this blog these many past months (except you with the rubber pant fixation), and to wish you

                                                            HAPPY NEW YEAR!  

Sunday, 23 December 2012

A Christmas Card to all my lovely friends - you are also allowed to read if you don't consider yourself either lovely nor a friend. Although, if you are an evil harpy, bent on world domination, please skip this page...

Come in, come in, pour yourself a glass of egg-nog.  Well, I call it egg-nog, even though we ran out of eggs, and I'm not entirely sure what 'nog' is, so I didn't put any in, so it's mostly water with a bit of yellow food-colouring in.  But pour yourself one, anyhow.  There's probably a slice of Christmas cake somewhere too, if you want to help yourself but...well, if there's any teeth marks in it, I should pass, if you know what I mean.

Anyhow.  I have gathered you all here today in order to raise a glass and toast you all with a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year...oh, whoops, sorry, don't worry, it's mostly water and the food-colouring will wash out eventually.  This has been a most auspicious year for yours truly, with awards and events and things happening all over the place, although I have been a little quiet on the SHOUTY front for the last few weeks, what with trying to get some actual work done, plus all the preparations for a family Christmas and the day job and everything, so if I have missed out on congratulating you on a personal triumph then I am very sorry and I shall raise another glass to you later. Without spilling any this time.  But you have probably used this period of uncharacteristic quietness on my part to remove your earplugs, breathe a sigh of relief and get on with normal life without having to worry about me suddenly SPRINGING UP and yelling at you.

I have been working on the follow up to Vampire State of Mind (currently entitled Love Like Blood, but that's just its working title, it's probably going to end up called something like Five Little Ducks Go Shopping, or something, because I'm rubbish at titles).  It's full of trouble, zombies, family arguments, and there's one or two sexy vampires thrown in to the mix just to add a bit of je ne sais quois in the bloodsucky department.  Sil's in trouble, Jess is under stress, Zan is being unexpectedly nice - and Liam has bought an inflatable Cyberman suit.

I'm also working on my Astrophysicist book, about a really accident prone astrophysicist, his best friend who is, inexplicably called Link, a slightly traumatised young woman with a horse called Stan, and local folktales.

So, that's what I'm up to.  But, for now, I'm busy wrapping, peeling, cooking, propping up the cards that keep falling over in the draught, cleaning out hens, dispossessing many, many spiders of ancestral webs, scraping stuff off every surface, as, I suspect, are most of you.  So it only remains for me to wish you all
See you on the other side....

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Amateur crastination... what happens when you really *do* listen when sleigh bells ring...

Why I am spending so long dwelling on the lyrics of well-known Christmas songs is entirely down to that nasty little gremlin known to all working writers as 'Procrastination'.  Why I have to be 'pro' I'm not sure.  Maybe I'm professional at crastinating?  Can one be an amateur crastinator?  Probably not, since I'm so good at it, I'm assuming that professional status was thrust upon me without my knowledge.... 

Pretty much all Christmas songs end up in death and mayhem you know.

But whatever has caused it, I have just spent an unreasonable amount of time pondering on whether I've been naughty or nice. I'm probably coming down most firmly on the 'nice' side, I've not actually managed to do anyone any physical harm this year (although not for want of trying), and I've been generally well-disposed towards cold-callers and telephone sales people, so I'm hoping these things qualify me for the 'good children' list, which should, at least, guarantee me some chocolate.  Possibly bath-salts, if those things still exist.  If I try really hard for the next week or so, I'm hoping to upgrade to bedsocks, although I fear for my sanity if anyone tries to pull the 'hat and scarf' double whammy.

Also, what would I do if I actually did  see my mother kissing Santa Claus?  What would be a suitable implement to rush at the pair with, and who would be most likely to be in need of my ministrations?  I'm betting Santa can hold his own, but my mother can be really determined and, you know, he's got a job to do and everything - that's a lot of houses to get round in one night and he wouldn't want to be held up by a single-minded pensioner with a lot of time on her hands and a vested interest in diamonds, would he? 

And 'Jingle Bells'... 'over fields we go, laughing all the way'?  Seriously?  I would have thought, by the time you'd hit the third field-gate, it would be more of an hysterical screaming - someone needs to get control of that horse before you hit the ditch on the far side, otherwise it's going to be Christmas dinner through a straw for all the occupants, and that sort of thing can really put a damper on your Christmas spirit, particularly when you're not actually allowed any Christmas spirits because of the antibiotics.

While we're at it, has anyone, ever, in the annals of Natural History, tried to 'slip a sable under the tree'?  Have you seen the teeth on those buggers?  You try slipping a sable anywhere, other than in the vicinity of other sables, and the results will be very badly bitten fingers, at the very least, with an option on possible nose-removal and, once again, we are looking at a Christmas largely spent in A&E.
Cute. Huge teeth. Very pointy.
And now, safe in the knowledge that you will never again be able to sing a Christmas song without wondering exactly how terribly it will end, I shall leave you so that I may procrastinate some more, in a different fashion.  Degrouting the bathroom appeals...

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Socks of astonishment, the unwisdom of buying...

Right, so it's time for the annual 'Christmas Shopping' post.  My apologies in advance if I get a bit ranty and sweary, you may prefer to view this blog through a copy of 'Miffy By the Sea' or something similiarly innocent, so that your eyeballs remain untainted by the foulness both of language and smell that is bound to issue forth from this blog.


There, that's got the first bit of swearitude out of the way.  I should, of course, make it plain that I'm not talking about ALL men here.  Well, obviously not, I don't have to buy presents for all men.  I'm sure there's quite a few that I haven't even met yet, and buying presents for men is hard enough without having to buy for men whose names you don't even know, let alone whether or not they have any interest in bar-billiards or possess a golf handicap.  Moonpig probably wouldn't let you send a card that just said 'Happy Christmas MAN', unless you were, like, a misplaced hippie or something. But anyway.  Men.  Difficult to buy for.  Unless they have a particular hobby, like golf or football or drinking, or are sufficiently metrosexual to be happy with lots of smellies and bath stuff.  I once gave my younger son the Christmas gift of socks, to which his reply was 'How old do you think I am?' (he was about 16, actually, but everyone needs socks, right?  I mean, the younger you are, the more socks you get through...).  So, lesson learned.  No socks.

So, I sit and stare at Amazon, and Amazon stares back, and I flick through DVD's and games and books and things, and realise that I have no idea what to buy, and then flick back to the socks page, because everyone needs socks, and I'm running out of ideas and it's nearly Christmas Eve, and then panic sets in and I find myself in the middle of Marks and Spencer with a basket full of cardigans and cheese, drawn inexplicably towards the sock department as though I'm some sort of attractive metal and socks are magnetic.

With girls, it's so much easier.  Smellies are always welcome, as are nick-nack-type things, jewellery, stationery, hell, they even quite like socks.  But you try giving a man a bunch of nick-nacks and some earrings and see what happens!  And yet, I draw the line at sitting them down for a pre-Christmas chat that includes the words 'tell me what you want for Christmas, and tell me explicitly, with drawings and, prefererably, a link to the page on Amazon, or the actual shop where I can purchase these things'.  Because that just takes all the fun and surprise out of Christmas, don't you think?  And the fun of Christmas is to be surprising, and buy the people in your life goodies that they don't know that they want until they receive them, when they are astonished and delighted.

And I do have to admit that socks are not all that astonishing.

The men might have a point.
Socks are probably the male equivalent of the mini-hoover or the stair carpet - things we women are aware are useful, and, at times, necessary, but they are not the sort of thing we want to find gift-wrapped at the end of the bed on Christmas morning.


Sunday, 2 December 2012

Hissing Fits, Being Warm and Tony Robinson in a Hat.

I was, predictably enough, going to blog about Christmas... the eternal search for the perfect present, the agonies of crowded shopping centres and the concomitant bruising; the annual plea for Santa to bring me exciting presents that aren't DIY related (assuming, of course, that you Do Your Own hoovering and dusting and don't have a little goblin that does it for you), yada yada.  Sadly predictable, and if there's one word which should never apply to me, it's predictable.  Sad, yes, although relatively rarely in the 'boohoo' ways and far more often in the modern parlance, ie my (to others) inexplicable fixation with Tony Robinson and HobNobs. (Actually, idea there for Christmas, get Tony moistened and rolled in HobNob crumbs...)
Gratuitous Tony Robinson picture, courtesy of the BBC.  HobNobs not pictured.
Where was I?

Ah yes.  The thing that distracted me from Christmas.  Today, my truly wonderful Other Half (hereafter to be known as The Mysterious Mister Q, or just TMMQ for short) fixed my central heating system! If you have never been in the position of sitting in bed, wearing four layers but with the tip of your nose so cold that you fear it may actually have fallen off and be forming that lumpy thing that you're sitting on, leaving you with nothing but a nose-hole, like a syphilis sufferer in Primark jammies, you will not understand.  But anyone who has, will.  And, in the course of following TMMQ around the house with a little brass key, bleeding radiators and occasionally journeying back to the Boiler of Origin to tap the pressure valve, I found one of the most satisfying experiences known to man.

The hiss and squirt of a bleeding radiator.

They look like this.  Roughly.  Only with more rust, and the paint behind them is peelier. Also there is dust. And dog hair.
There is something so intrinsically satisfying in feeling the heat rising up your erstwhile chilly metal, while the valve hisses and chuffs like an overweight man making an unwise attempt at fell-running, and eventually splutters with a sound similar to a goblin having a chuckling fit, finally spurting water into your (hopefully) carefully held cloth. I know it sounds boring, it sounds as though it would come second only to sitting next to a tuft of turf with a ruler and waiting for results to fill in on your 'Grass Growing' chart, but, trust me on this.  I'm actually hoping that the pressure has dropped, so that we can go around the house with the brass key later and do the 'hissing' thing all over again!

Okay.  You can all go back to staring at the picture of Tony, sucking your teeth, shaking your heads and muttering "Really?  I mean, seriously?' now.  But if you'd like to leave a comment, telling me about your own peculiar enjoyments, I shan't judge.  I may laugh, of course, but I shan't judge...

Sunday, 25 November 2012

A short post about Prunes (my similiarity to), the proximity of Christmas, the misfortune of hats - and an In Memoriam.

This will be a quick post today (and shut up, you at the back, I heard that cheering and whooping.  You don't have to read my words of wisdomish, you know, you could go out and get a proper hobby).  I'm busily writing, trying to get the first draft of my Vampire State of Mind (available in all good bookshops and online) sequel finished, and also the first draft of the late, great Starman (otherwise known as The One about The Astrophysicist) finished too.  So, you know, busy.

Plus it's raining.  And it's nearly my birthday.  And I haven't had nearly enough chocolate, so I'm crabby and out of sorts, and probably the last thing you need to listen to is a writer who's chocolate-deprived, writing very hard and, with one fatal swoop of the calendar, is about to turn another year older and watch yet another portion of her face fall off, or at the very least sink into wrinkles.  It's like watching a plum in time-lapse photography; one moment all shiny and bearing the bloom of perfect ripeness, the next it's a prune-in-waiting, with a slight tinge of mould and suddenly very attractive to flies.

My face.
It's on Wednesday, by the way.  My birthday.  In case you want to pop over, with a cake or chocolate or expensive perfume or something.  Or even just to reassure me that I don't look like an incipient prune.  Although, of course, you may be saving the cake, chocolate and perfume for Christmas (she said, hopefully). That's one of the problems with a birthday so close to Christmas (just under four weeks, not that I want to panic you of course, but, you know, LESS THAN FOUR WEEKS..), I get many lovely gifts but I get them all within the space of a month, and have to spend the rest of the year carefully rationing them out. 

I shall petition to be like the Queen, and have a second birthday in June.  That way I might get some summery things for my birthday.  No-one ever thinks, early in November, as they shop for my birthday, 'Do you know, what I think Jane needs is some nice sunglasses?' even if I do.  They look at the goods available in the shops and they buy me gloves and hats and scarves.  Which, of course, are much appreciated, obviously, because I have all the thermoregulation ability of a rock and am permanently cold, even when sitting inside the fireplace with a large fire burning but.  You know.  Principle of the Thing, especially when the people concerned then do it again for Christmas.
These are cute, don't you think?  Not that I'm hinting or anything, know, saying.

Please, someone, admit I have a point here...

Whereas I, on the other hand, once gave a flannel as a gift, so am probably not best placed to remark on the Suitability of Presents...

And now, having planted that little seed in your mind, I shall take myself off and do something useful like writing.  Or, more probably, panic-buying of Christmas presents.  I mean, FOUR WEEKS ON TUESDAY, PEOPLE!  Let's see some ACTION!

This blog post is dedicated to the memory of our little Maggie-cat, who passed away on Thursday and is, even now, stalking her way through cat-heaven, terrorising the voles and eating all the sardines.

Monday, 19 November 2012

This is it, the real thing. Better latte than never...

Hello again.

No, it's all right, I'm awake now.  Your constant chivvying and nagging has had its effect, and I'm here to tell you about the Goings On at the weekend.  Many and varied were the goings...

Firstly, we drove to Bedford in fog, to attend the Festival of Romance, where I pranced about in a borrowed frock and was allowed to present two awards!  Yes, they let me open envelopes with people's names in!  And my publisher, Choc Lit was awarded Publisher of the Year!  Which was a true thing, and not me being busy with a crayon behind everyone's backs and just pretending to open the envelope!  And later, and not presented by me, the lovely and wonderful Christina Courtney won the Best Historical section for her book The Silent Touch of Shadows, so of course we had to have some drinks.

My book Vampire State of Mind was shortlisted for the Best Book, with some lovely other people, but it didn't win because the equally lovely Rowan Coleman won with her book, Dearest Rose, and we had some more drinks.  In the morning I think I read in a shopping centre.  Well, my body did, because my head was still lying in bed complaining about all the drinks it had been given.  Later on, when my head had rejoined us, I read at a Rock Star Party.  Look...

I'm wearing a basque under that jacket, if that helps you to think of me as Rock Starry, rather than 'In a wind tunnel in my underwear'.  And, yes, Morrissey does appear to be staring into my left ear, doesn't he?

In a stunning turn of fate, our team came second in the Romaniacs Romance Quiz after the Saturday night dinner (at which I told my Big Black Cock story again).  We would have won the competition if we'd got more answers right, but I feel we performed creditably under the circumstances, so big ups to our team Norfolk In Chance - Sarah Tranter, Liz Harris, Christina Courtney, Sue Moorcroft, Jane Wenham-Jones, me, and my OH Steve!

Then we went home.  Where I promised never to drink again.


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Apologies for the late arrival of your post

A million apologies if you've landed here all revved up and awaiting the next installment of me.  However, due to the entirely foreseen circumstances of having returned from the Festival of Romance (pause for whoops of delight) slightly hungover and completely exhausted, this post will be slightly delayed.  Not, obviously, delayed enough for you to contemplate getting another blog, just long enough for you to get tired and cold and hungry waiting for the arrival of this one.

But it will arrive tomorrow, promise.  Probably.  Unless another hangover intervenes, or I wander off, or something else happens and I forget all about it.  If I do, you can prod me. Not too hard or anything, you don't want to make me cry, just...gently.  With marshmallows and kittens and things.

In the meantime, here is a picture of me, doing something.  Don't ask what, it was something to do with eyebrows, apparently.  Quite why I am talking about eyebrows whilst dressed as a set of curtains I do not know.  I had a hangover, cut me some slack...


Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Next Big Thing. Maybe. Plus kittens, but they are right at the bottom, so you have to read ALL OF IT! Mwhaha...etc,

So, anyway.  I've been tagged (no, it's all right, it's not one of those that means I can't go out after dark.  I don't go out after dark anyway, so it would be pointless...) by the lovely Caroline Green ..yes, it's all right, I'll wait while you follow the link and find out more about her... I'll just sit here and twiddle my thumbs....  Caroline writes YA (Young Adult) books, and we first met when we both won our categories at the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards (did I mention I'd won an award?  I did?  Oh.).  Where was I?  Oh, yes, Caroline's tagged me in The Next Big Thing, which is where I tell you about my, well, next big thing I suppose.

So I jolly well will.  There are questions I have to answer, it's all done properly and everything, not just me randomly standing on a box and yelling, so you might want to go and get a cup of tea and a biscuit (I recommend HobNobs), so you can properly absorb my words of wisdomish.  Which are thusly:-

What is the working title of your book?

Hubble Bubble.  It seems to be working so far...

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Walking through local woods, a smattering of a knowledge of hedge-witchery (I can kill a man with a look, you know.  Well, as long as I'm holding a gun, anyway), horrible winter weather and the nature of friendship.
I know this isn't very enlightening but I'm never quite sure where my ideas come from.  I just sort of point myself at a page and things happen.

What genre does your book fall under?

Although someone did say that it had a bit of everything, magic, romance, mystery, fantasy, primarily it's a  romantic comedy.  Because that's what I do.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh dear.  I was afraid you'd ask me that.  Y'see, I don't watch enough TV to know who anyone is these days.  Hmmm, let me think (and Google like a bitch)...  Hmmm.  Tom Ellis could probably play Kai, if he wore built up shoes and grew his hair a bit, plus played up his Welsh accent.  Holly.. I'm not sure.  Most actresses are a little bit too 'fey', since Holly is very down-to-earth and practical.  Freema Agyeman would do a lovely Megan and I'd plump for Ben Wishaw as Rowan.  Those are my best guesses, sorry.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Be careful what you wish for - you might get what you need, rather than what you want.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It's under contract to Choc Lit to be published in June 2013.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Six weeks.  I wrote it as my NaNoWriMo exercise three years ago.  Mind you, it's had an awful lot of work done to it since then...

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I'm not sure I've ever read anything quite like it!  I know there are books out there that are magic brought into the real world, Jenny Colgan's Working Wonders for one, but this is more about amateur witchcraft, so...not sure. Pass.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I honestly don't know.  I think there are stories out there, sleeting through the atmosphere, and sometimes a little germ of one hatches inside the mind that wants to write, I just loved the whole 'wishes coming true but in a very warped way' idea.  Apparently that happens in the horror films 'Wishmaster', but I've never seen it, because I am a wuss.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There's a sexy Welsh journalist who gets caught up in the whole thing, against his will, whilst being very cynical and a bit brusque; he's cute.  And my MC, Holly Grey, who is adamant that she doesn't wish for anything - her life is complete as it is.  And yet...

And now I have to tag some people to carry on in this vein.  Supposedly it should be five, but I can only find two people willing to have their names attached to this blog (it's not like it's catching or anything.  They might just feel a bit...itchy for a day or two.  And spots, there may be spots.)  But I have managed to round up and corral a couple of volunteers, so watch their blogs for they shall be offering their own Words of Wisdomish about their upcoming Works in Progress, very shortly.  Or, you know, when they get round to it, they're busy people.  Itchy, busy people.  With spots...

Firstly there is Kate Johnson.   Kate and I go way back.  So far back, in fact, that sometimes we fall over.  This is a bit about her.

Kate Johnson lives behind a keyboard in Essex and belongs to a small pride of cats. 

She also seems to have developed a habit of talking about herself in the third person, which she'll stop now.

I was born in the 1980s and have spent the intervening years watching romantic comedies and reading Terry Pratchett, which sort of made it inevitable that I'd grow up to write fantastical stories about people falling in love.

I've worked in an airport and in a laboratory, but much prefer being an author since it allows me to look at pictures of handsome men all day for the purposes of research.

I spend a lot of time online (seriously, a lot of time), Tweeting, reading other people's blogs, and trying to justify the purchase of more shoes, and when I've completely run out of other things to do, I occasionally write books.

My hobbies include
reading lots of books researching the literary competition, watching films and TV researching through a broad spectrum of media, drooling over admiring the work of fine actors such as David Tennant, Richard Armitage and Hugh Jackman, and being used as a bed/scratch-post/chew-toy/human slave by the aforementioned collection of animals.

I also write award-winning erotic romance under the name Cat Marsters.  

My other willing (honestly!) volunteer, is Rhoda Baxter, in whose company I have also been indecently drunk.  Plus, she knows about The Bat...

Hi. I’m Rhoda. I write smart contemporary romantic comedy. In real life, I’m a former scientist who now works with intellectual property. The rest of the time I’m a sensible grown up.
Years ago, when I commuted into London every day, I read a lot. I now write the sort of books I wanted to read.
My first book, Patently In Love is out now! The second, Having a Ball is scheduled for release spring 2013. I am a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

And now, as a reward, here are some kittens.


Sunday, 4 November 2012

Whitby Goth Weekend - Panda, a corset, dusting and being 'An Entourage'.

Oh, veritably have I been jet-setting this past week!  Well, no, there were no actual jets involved, mostly cars and legs, and it wasn't so much set as a bit...well, wobbly; definitely one stage up from liquid but not quite as firm as one would like one's set to be, so...all right, not so much jet-setting as leg-wobbling then.  But I have most definitely been it.  For this week I have been signing books all over the place.  Mostly just inside the front cover, it has to be admitted, but also in York, Leeds, Scarborough and, particularly noteably, at the Goth Weekend in Whitby.

Also my mother came to criticise the curtains and make noises at the cats and this always distracts me from the process of writing.  She hasn't been up to visit us here in the wilds of Yorkshire for a couple of years, so you can only imagine the lengths I had to go to to cover up the dirt before she arrived.  I DUSTED, people!  And you know that dust and I have a slightly symbiotic relationship, and I have, on occasion, used to it make notes on an upcoming work in progress, so the cleaning and clearing up that this maternal visit initiated was like ridding myself of old friends. Anyway.  It accounts for my somewhat lackadaisical appearance on the Internet recently.

But!  And it is a big but, particularly in these trousers... I have delightful pictures to show you!  Here, look, this is one of them...

This is me, engothulated and about to sign some copies of Vampire State of Mind, in Whitby Bookshop.  It was absolutely lovely, so many lovely people in such beautiful costumes, and me in a tight corset and three inch heels.  I could neither breathe nor walk, I was like a typical Victorian Miss.  For a while I thought about having consumption just to complete the picture, but since I couldn't cough either this would merely have consisted of me holding a hanky in front of my face, and passers by may have thought this was a ploy to prevent my make-up from scaring the horses.  So I didn't.  I don't know why it says Vintage Gifts behind me.  I am neither.

Here I am, sitting down, to my great relief.  Try not to be distracted by my heaving bosoms, when you are laced into a corset your bosoms are the least of your worries, even if, it transpires, you can balance a pint on them.  I am accompanied in this picture by Panda - a gentlemanly specimen of his species, who belongs to Paul and Jeremy and who kindly posed with me to prevent me from looking quite so Billy No-Mates.  Paul was there to read from some of his 'Brenda and Effie' novels later in the day, which I also attended and which was lovely, and I actually got to be part of his entourage - well, we walked from the pub to the bookshop together and I guess that qualifies as entouraging - which is something else I've never done before!  Yey!  Although I do have to add that we were actually in the pub beforehand, talking about forebodings, which is not quite as rock and roll, although I did rock and roll considerably whilst walking over cobbles in three inch heels, and the wine came as something of a relief.

And now, to allow your eyes to stop rotating in their sockets at the sight of me in a corset, with a panda, here is a delightful photograph of the bridlepath outside my house, in the mist.  Look on it as a holiday for your brain...

And try not to dwell on the thought of me in a corset, it's not good for you.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The secret of time. It's very simple, and delicious with mint sauce.

Let me start this blog by saying - last night the clocks went back an hour.  We all knew that, right?  I mean, none of you have been sitting there drumming your fingers and looking at your watches, muttering 'where is she?' and 'late again, Lovering?', and such purjorative remarks, have you?  Well, good, I'm glad we've established that, because today I am going to break to you some news that may take some digesting.

Are you ready?

Yesterday I was doing a book signing in York. Where I sat, in Waterstones, for two hours.  And, yes, I got to sign books and talk to people, and lots of lovely things happened, but, essentially, I was sitting down for two hours.  Well, apart from the few minutes when I had to get up and have a wee.  And those two hours were loooooooong hours, let me tell you.  I suppose I could have enlivened my time a touch by eating a big bun, but there's something inherently unattractive about an author, well, I suppose about me, specifically, sitting in front of a pile of books and shoving a sticky pastry into my mouth, so I didn't.  I forebore.

But!  Later, I was at home, doing 'authorly things' (contrary to the opinion of many, those authorly things don't involve lying on a sofa being fed grapes by a shirtless Johnny Depp.  Although, both lying on a couch with Johnny and the activities I actually partook in, involved flushing and plunging, one involves bleach and the other doesn't.)

Just take a rough guess as to which was involved.  Go on...

And, within mere seconds of the final, successful flush, it was time to go to bed.  And so, I formulated my theory, which goes thusly - time in the city moves much more slowly than time in the countryside.  And there is only one possible conclusion to be drawn from this.  What do we have much, much more of in the countryside than in towns?

Sheep suck time.  The denser the concentration of sheep, the faster the time goes, in some valleys in Wales it is already 2013, and New Zealand celebrated the year 2020 several decades ago. And so, I have solved this little 'why does time move faster sometimes than at others' conundrum!  When one wants time to slow down, ie, when on holiday or performing a pleasurable task, or when a deadline is permeating your life with the slow dread of a sprout-fart in a church hall, simply ensure that your life is as free from sheep as you can make it.  Time will instantly slow to a crawl. Alternatively, when looking forward to an event and therefore wishing for time to rattle past, try sitting in a field with a bucket of whatever sheep eat, and let the little woolly time-suckers do the work for you!

I don't know why it's taken everyone so long to figure this out, actually.  Go and ask the average farmer if he ever has time for a manicure, or for a fortnight's cruise around the Canary Isles.  You may wish to wear a protective helmet, because the answer may well be propelled with some force.

Physics, huh, there are few problems that cannot be solved by an author who hasn't got a sticky bun. Or Johnny Depp.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Inside out, grab and roll, a beginner's guide to Duvets... with gratuitous Johnny Depp, and added Strictly.

Why don't duvet covers have zips?  I've always thought it was so that you didn't have that horrible sensation in the middle of the night, when you've tugged the duvet up under your chin as far as it will go, only to then have the ghastly press of icy metal over your toes, a bit like Edward Scissorhands trying to get into bed with you.  Although, as ES was played by the gorgeously lovely Mr Depp, I'm not sure that comparison quite works, since, even if he'd just come straight from the Arctic I can't quite see myself not allowing him to sneak under my duvet.  Oh well.

You would, wouldn't you?

Back to my original question. Why don't duvets have zips?  They either have those inadequate plastic press-stud things, which, given an active night with much twisting and turning, give way with sounds like tiny party-poppers being let off (which, if you are undergoing a night of that kind of activity, can be immensely cheering, like having a crowd encouraging you.  A bit of applause is always welcome too,) or those buttons, which inevitably fall off and leave you with a duvet which bulges out of the bottom of its cover like a large lady wearing a too-tight crop top.

I ask this question, rather idly, because it is a Sunday morning and I have just watched the inevitable spectacle of a man trying to re-cover a duvet.  I thoroughly recommend this as a hobby, by the way, the watching, obviously, not the doing.  It would make a great TV show, get a series of celebrities to put new covers onto duvets, against the clock and to music... (hurries off to sell idea). 

Imagine this, without the woman but with a duvet... See what I mean?  And this picture is from the Daily Mirror, who have also clearly seen the possibilities....

I have tried to explain that it's quite simple.  You turn the cover inside out, grab the corners of the duvet itself and then sort of roll the cover onto the duvet.  It's like putting a coat onto a small child.  I have even demonstrated on numerous occasions.  Inside out, grab and roll...  And then I stand back and watch a man turn it into a cross between



I don't really think that zips would help, of course.  Unless the covers unzipped all the way round, like a sleeping bag...and, yes, I know, for every man that can't stuff a duvet cover there are seventeen women who can't either, and he can do things that I can't, well, I'm still not entirely sure what brake calipers are and I'm rubbish at paying bills on time. But, still - TV show in the making?

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Cat Limbo, The 'corset, stockings and suspenders' trap for the unwary Googler, and where you can come and see me, in Real Life

If it weren't for my calendar, I'd be lost.  Literally, lost.  Temporally, I mean, I'd have trouble getting geographically lost in my own house, although I suppose that thing where you go into a room and then wonder what you went in for is the Home equivalent of driving to Cromer and then wondering why you bothered.  Not, I hasten to add, that I have anything against Cromer. Anyway.  Calendar.

I write all my appointments on my calendar, as soon as I make them, which is all lovely and nice and means that I have a record of where I'm meant to be at any given time.  Unfortunately, the calendar on which I write everything IS NOT the calendar I actually work from, because the calendar on which I write appointments is in my bedroom, tacked up to my bookcase.  I make a lot of appointments via my computer, all right?

Like this.  Only without the marshmallows.  You saw NOTHING....
  But the calendar that I actually LOOK AT is stuck to the back of the front door (well, it's not the actual front door, it's the door that leads to Cat Limbo, which is our name for the cold, damp, spider infested porch between the real front door and the house proper.  It's full of wellingtons and outgrown coats and recycling bins and advertising circulars and often several cats, who have come in from outdoors and not yet gained ingress to the house proper, and are therefore in Cat Limbo.  Not, you know, dead and waiting for entrance to Cat Heaven, because I think Cat Heaven is a given for any cat which has passed on.  I like to think it's a place full of pilchards and lazy mice.) and I check it for instructions before I leave for work every morning.  It's a kind of ritual, 'am I wearing my slippers? Do I have underwear on? Do I have any appointments for today?'

I think you can see where I am going with this....

Yes.  Today I happened to glance at my calendar, that's the upstairs calendar, the calendar that has all my actual things written on it, and will hereafter be known as Calendar One, and find that I have actual appointments this month that never became transferred to Calendar Two and therefore did not exist in my conscious mind!  Yes, proper writing appointments!  So, in the event of you being at a loose end on any of these dates, or having relatives you must visit in any of these places, or being a mad fan of me and wanting to press your actual eyes upon my living personage (don't get your hopes up, it's not that exciting), here are a few of them.

On Saturday 27th of October, I shall be at Waterstones in York, 1-3pm where I may (or may not) be dressed as a vampire.  I tell you this so that you don't turn up and ask why I came as a dribbling streetwalker.  That's my vampire costume, and I have false fangs in.  Probably.

On Wednesday 31 October (your actual Halloween), I shall be in Leeds, 1-3 again, similarly attired, although, since I have to go in on the train, I might not bother with the fangs, since asking for a ticket to Leeds whilst wearing enormous vampire fangs and talking through one of those speaky-gaps that makes you sound like R2D2 (no, not C3PO, and, yes, I do know the difference) may result in the purchase of a one-way ticket to Ae (which is near Dumfries.  A long way from Leeds).

On Saturday 03 November I shall be in Whitby Bookshop, again from 1-3, and yet again attired as a vampire.  It is Goth weekend, so I may well blend in, although blending in is difficult when you are wearing a corset.  My last blog post about book signings mentioned the words PVC Underwear, and has been one of the posts with the highest rate of hits..although I feel there have been some very disappointed readers, so I am hoping that mentioning the words Corset and Stockings and Suspenders will lead to an equally high number of visitors to this esteemed blog.  If you have come here as a result of googling such items of apparel - welcome!  I hope you....oh, they've gone.  Oh well, never mind.  But, yes, corset.  I should be easy to spot, I will be the one gasping asthmatically, and periodically vanishing behind my own boobs (if I duck, I can actually hide behind them for quite some time).

I will be as darkly alluring as this. Only probably less photogenic.  And less architectural, although that corset is built in a shipyard...
 Do come and see me, even if you only wish to point and laugh.  If you want to throw things, marshmallows are nice.  And also soft.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

I become a little over-dramatic about being a bit chilly.

Well, it's October again, and the armoured men are no longer sketching outdoors.

In other words, the knights are drawing in again.

Sorry.  It's been a long week and you really can't expect top-notch comedy from someone who has to get up before six every morning. In fact, you should consider yourselves lucky to get any comedy at all, because, due to the fast-dropping temperatures, I am numb from the collarbone down, and I stopped feeling my ears last week.  They may actually have fallen off, but since I don't wear glasses and rarely look in a mirror, this remains unsubstantiated.

So.  How are we all?  Enjoying the dazzling brilliance that is Autumn?  The chilly, longer nights punctuated by just a puff of woodsmoke; the array of colour as the trees change into their dowdy winter nightwear, the glisten of the occasional frost that bejewels the grasses in the early mornings?  Yes?  Then you are clearly people with efficient central heating, because for me, Autumn is the time when I don so many clothes that I am unable to bend my arms from late September through to April, wear socks so thick that I have to have my shoes specially made in a shipyard and develop an unnatural affinity for my electric blanket.

You like this?  Do you? Try imagining you're naked, standing in it....still liking it?  Perv.

Whilst I can fully appreciate the beauties of autumnal colours, I prefer to be appreciating them whilst toasty-warm, preferably from the steps of an aircraft bound for somewhere really hot, whilst sipping a glass of Pimms and wearing something floaty and appropriate only for the warmer climes for which I am bound.  Like snow.  You can only really appreciate snow when you don't have to slog four miles through it, up to your knees, just to get a pint of milk and a paper.  Snow is a bit like a tiger.  Beautiful, wild and untamed, and best seen through very thick glass, rather than at a distance of a few inches whilst fighting for your life.  Or a pint of red-top and the latest edition of Top Gear magazine, which, I freely admit, is not the same as death, even if Jeremy Clarkson is being really sarcastic about something.

It's my own fault.  I live in a house in which, when it is windy, all the curtains wiggle about even when the windows are closed and even the slugs grow a winter coat; it's a bit like being Victorian, only without the consumption and the aspidistra.  It's lovely in the summer, very airy and cool, except that we have to be careful about leaving the doors and windows open, because the chickens get in and put beakmarks in the butter, but apart from that and the bluebottles the size of Spitfires, it's fine.  Winter, however, is another matter...

So, I hear you asking, rather croakily, for my tale of chilly woe has caused tears to flood your dear little eyes, why don't you move?  Pack your meagre belongings which, we are led to believe, would barely fill a donkey-cart, and head elsewhere, where the temperatures are less knuckle-bitingly low, and the water is actually liquid between October the fifth and April the twenty-seventh?  Somewhere you can truly appreciate the wonders of nature as the seasons change and you roll about naked in temperatures exceeding thirty degrees centigrade behind triple-glazing?

EXACTLY like this.

Put it down to my being British.  Sturdy, with an upper-lip so stiff that you can use it to open bottles, I owe my rugged good looks to the bracing effects of the Yorkshire winter, which have so tightened my skin that I look twenty five, and when I frown it sounds like a tarpaulin flapping in a gale.  Besides, we British like to complain about the weather.  It gives us something to talk about, once we've exhausted the fascinating subject of Doctor Who!

I have to stop now. The frostbite in my fingers is such that I can no longer type and the wind is getting up.  I need to venture outside to chisel the washing off the line before dark, and before the sheets snap off.

I may be some time....

Sunday, 30 September 2012

English Heritage experiments and the IASPR and the Black Cock. And if that comes up on your search engine, you should be ashamed of yourself...

Somewhere, round the back, English Heritage has a unit to rival anything dreamed up by a Bond villain.  A laboratory so supreme in its ability to juggle plant genes that it makes DEFRA looks like a bunch of nine year olds making a collage out of pine cones.

For yesterday, people, I discovered their secret!  Well, not their secret, actually, more the fact that they have a secret.  Yesterday I discovered English Heritage Grass.

All casually I suggested a visit to Kirkham Abbey, you see.  It's a picturesque little priory in a nice little valley with a bridge and a river and a very good pub, and we fancied a bit of a potter out, what with me having been confined to barracks recently, writing notes for my talk to the IASPR (which I shall tell you about after I've finished breaking the news about the grass...).  So, in my quest for fresh air, we took ourselves off to the Abbey for a poke among some ancient brickwork, which is always therapeutic, and I come back feeling that my falling-down house isn't quite so bad after all because at least it's still got a roof, and bits of the windows still close, and everything.  And whilst there...well.  Just take a look.

Do you see that grass?  Not the spiky brown stuff, that clearly hasn't been anywhere near any kind of genetic technology, but the green stuff in the background?  That, by the way, is part of Kirkham Abbey, it's not my house, despite bearing certain resemblances in the 'falling down' department.  But look at the green stuff!  And it's not just green, oh no.  It's all kind of cushioney and bouncy!  When you walk on it, it's like walking on the grass you were always told you weren't allowed to walk on when you were a child!  Like a cross between bowling green and municipal gardens!  The kind of grass that you want to tear your clothes off and roll around on stark naked going 'numnumnumnum' and making a sort of purring noise....oh.  Just me then.

So how, if they don't have vast experimental laboratories somewhere in the heart of a mountain, do they manage to get such grassy grass? That's what I want to know.  Here, for example, is some normal grass...

Do you see the way it's all sort of greyish and brownish?  No, it's not moving, that's the water in the background.  The grass is the big bit in the front. Tufty and a bit yellow round the edges.  Now look up again, paying specific attention to the bright greenness.

Genetic experimentation. Got to be.  Would never have thought it of English Heritage, what with them having to upkeep all those ruins and things but..well. Next thing you'll be telling me that the National Trust have worked out a way to breed humans that are born aged 65 and come out with a picnic rug under one arm and a photograph of their grandchildren under the other.....

And, in other news, I spoke to the IASPR in York.  The International Association for the Study of Popular Romance who were having their Annual Conference in the city.  I'm not entirely sure what I said, but I know that people laughed a lot, and I told the story about the Jehova's Witnesses and the Big Black Cock (which was a thing that actually happened to me, but isn't nearly as exciting as the title makes it sound). I also pontificated (which, contrary to my initial beliefs, is nothing to do with either bridges or popes) about being a romantic comedy novelist.  And, because several of those there present were American  (or presumably still are, hearing me talk not being enough to make anyone want to change nationality, apart from some people who instantly want to become Australian or Greek or anything that I'm not, in an attempt to dissociate themselves from me), I found out that romantic novelists are treated a lot better in the States.  There, they are feted!  Or it might be fated, I forgot to ask... Or even foetid.  Either way they have a better time of it than us over here where romantic comedy is like the Bottom Table of novels and we're only allowed to talk to the Sci Fi writers and romance is a bit of a second-class citizen all round.

Ah well.  Since I am British I am stoic and therefore completely used to being asked what I do for a real job, or being told that anybody can write a book if they've got enough time, and all that stuff.  So I shall just grit my teeth and get on with writing and, on my days off, going to the English Heritage headquarters to find out what it is they do to their grass and if they'd like to experiment on some people of my acquaintance....

Sunday, 23 September 2012

I know a song that will get on your nerves... The 'Bibitty Bobbity Boo Incident', and Busted, Evil Of...

Today I wish to address the awful, awful subject of earworms.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, this is not some kind of parasitic life-form that lives inside the auditory canal.  Do they even exist?  Is there a parasite which infects ears? Oh no, now I've started to think about things that might live in ears - imagine talking to someone and seeing the tip of something nasty poking out of their ear and having to raise the subject of, maybe, rinsing out the ears with Paraquat or similar...

Just imagine... go on....

Urgh.  No.  On this occasion I am talking about those insidious little chants that get stuck on 'repeat play' inside your head. Usually unpleasant (memorably, an entire Science Department spent nearly an entire Christmas term singing the 'Bibbitty Bobbity Boo' song from Cinderella, we were physically unable to stop. Every time someone uttered the immortal words 'Bibbitty Bobbity'...which are not uncommon among those who deal in eyeballs and complicated circuitry, like underfunded Doctor Frankensteins ... there would be a chorus of groans and a communal moan of 'now I'm going to start singing it, again...), usually very, very simple to the point of being almost 'novelty record' ('Shaddupayou Face' was another one), and totally evil.

Somewhere in this world exists a Stock-Aiken-Waterman entity, probably made entirely of ears and tentacles, whose sole purpose in life is to come up with tunes and lyrics which will lodge in the head of unwitting listeners, only to come back tenfold stronger and with the words slightly twisted, in the middle of a dark night.  Who among us has not woken up with their lips moving to a Rick Astley number, previously heard and then forgotten about and yet somehow with the power to render you sleepless, muttering 'never gonna give you up...' into the darkness of another insomniacal night?  Who, triggered by the almost subconscious reading of the word 'capacitor', is not compelled to spend the next forty-eight hours stuck in a loop of singing 'I've been to the Year Three Thousand...', despite not even knowing what a flux capacitor actually is?

Now do you feel ashamed?  Come on, they're, like, twelve or something...

 Now I know, due to what will forever be known as the 'Bibbitty Bobbity Boo Incident', that this isn't just peculiar to me. Others suffer too.  There is even, somewhere, a website dedicated to the Earworm.  No, go and find it for yourselves, I'm not going there, I'll probably end up singing nothing but pre-teen chants for the next ten years....


Sunday, 16 September 2012

Oh my little chucklebunnies, I cannot begin to tell you of the things I have seen!  So, since I cannot begin, I shall continue - thusly.

...and then, suddenly, there wasn't a motorway there at all!  And I found myself half-way to Leeds.

...because I had a panda on my lap, and I didn't want to cover him in icing.
...three people and no biro.
...'cake is the only research that exists', and he put it on Facebook.  The picture is terrible.

I am recently returned from the Festival that is BooQfest in Northampton.  Northampton is very nice, surprisingly.  Well, probably not surprisingly to the people who live there, although people rarely think the place where they live is nice, so more likely, not the people who live there but the people who visit every so often.  Anyway.  Nice.  The BooQfest opened with a launch party - which differs from a lunch party in two, very important respects, one being that extra 'a', which makes all the difference.  Consider these two sentences for a moment, if you will. "I met Tony Robinson the other day" versus "I met a Tony Robinson the other day".  One of these is merely a passing statement, the other is a case for Breaking an Injunction and possible police intervention.  That is how important an 'a' is.  Also it was in the evening.  So, launch party.  There was welcoming, and drinks of all kinds, and readings (which were terrific, Will Davis and Jeremy Seabrook) and everything was launched very nicely.  And there were cupcakes...ohh, such cupcakes as dreams are made of!  The kind where they are too nice to do the normal thing of licking all the icing off and then 'losing' the actual cake part.

And then there was The Bar, where my daughter (who had accompanied me to BooQfest, for an author should never go unaccompanied to events.  Authors spend far too much time writing, therefore alone, and when released into the wild, show a distressing tendency to talk with their mouths full and gossip and other such evils of society) and I found ourselves.  More drink was taken. Things happened.  Look.
I honestly have no idea what was going on here.  But I've got a glass in my hand and am obviously happy.

Me, Paul Magrs, and Colin, who was one of the volunteers who worked so hard behind the event.

Er, yes.  Quite. Looks like I'm about to blow out candles on a non-existant cake.

Me, Paul, Colin, Iain - who was my Minder for the day and managed to get me to my reading and signing and other things without actually having to resort to the pigboards and cattle prod, plus Joe Lidster. Iain made the cupcakes - his company is called Cinstyx cupcakes (follow them on Twitter @BakesWithBite).  Go on, I'll wait...

And I did a reading or two, and I did a signing in Waterstones, and it was all absolutely fantastic.  Met so many lovely new people (and some quite old ones), and a Panda, and Morgen Bailey, who was one of the helpy-organise people, and they're going to do it all again next year and I want to go again NOW!  When the call goes out, people, I want you all to sign up!

I shall leave you with some more pictures. This one -  

where I am almost sure that I am NOT sniffing Paul's sleeve.  Or wiping my nose on it.  No, I don't know what I actually am doing, but I'm fairly sure it's not that.

My daughter, Vienna, with Joe Lidster.  And a glass.  He looks a bit worried... and his tee-shirt is from Primark.

And, finally - the Sci Fi panel boys - Mark Michalowski, Joe Lidster, Paul Magrs and Gary Russell, talking about Doctor Who and stuff.

I'm only sorry that we couldn't get to see and listen to everyone - Alan Moore was there talking, and there were creative writing workshops and all sorts of stuff!  But, I think you can see that there was much enjoyment partaken of.  Also drink.  And cake.  Which, apparently, is the only research that exists...

No, me neither.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

BooQfest, where I shall be Appearing. It's all right, they're expecting me, it's not like I'm going to loom up or anything

This week...well, no, not this week, because that was this week and it was mostly full of lying down and fanning myself, but this coming week which, now I come to think of it is probably next week, I shall be attending a most exciting event, which is Northampton's BooQfest.  Here I shall be doing a reading and a signing and also hopefully meeting some lovely people.  I say 'hopefully', because there is often a distressing tendency for people to see me coming and run away and, since I do not have a very immediate turn of speed, although I can reach quite a velocity if someone holds up a HobNob on the horizon and makes dunking motions, sometimes they get away. 

I'm doing some readings, there are workshops and all sorts of things and a lot of the Sci Fi community will be there, (Paul Magrs is someone I am hoping won't accelerate away too fast because I'd really like to hear what he has to say about things, particularly his cat, although I don't suppose that will be the main topic of his speakings).  It all looks fantastically exciting and I can't wait to get there although I do have a fairly nebulous idea of where Northampton actually is.  Apparently it is quite a big place but, as we all know, I have trouble navigating around my own house, and am noted for the time I once lost an entire supermarket, so don't get your hopes up about me arriving early or anything, I shall probably run, panting, into the Royal and Derngate two minutes before I am due to read, with the car parked outside on double yellow lines and the engine still running.  Although, thinking about it, that will be ideal for the quick getaway I might need after I've done the whole 'fan' thing which I have planned for such luminaries as Joe Lidster and Gary Russell.  I don't want to give too much away (they might be reading this, you never know, although I suspect not as no-one has ever heard of me and I shall probably draw an audience of one at these sessions, and that will be a small hedgehog who has wandered in out of the rain and has no intentions of buying a book) but it involves begging them to sign things for me.

Anyway.  If you are anywhere near Northampton (or environs, as I am sure there are roads and things down there that you can travel to Northampton on, although I have yet to have this confirmed), you may wish to come along.  It's free!  Look, it's not just me speaking there, there are lots of wonderful, and far more interesting ones! Aw, go on....

Northampton.  Apparently easy to get to

In other news, I recently visited a mast.  It was on the top of the moor, and when I say 'the top' I mean a sheer vertical climb up which I had to scramble.  There was panting, people, and sweat!  There were also views, like this...

although I hate to disappoint you, Steve and Dog are not there all the time.... and also this

which is another picture of my attempt to do the Hokey Cokey at selected scenic locations throughout the UK.  Oh, and if you're interested, the mast itself looks like this

But you're probably not.

Right, so.  See you in Northampton! (she said, cheerfully still expecting only the hedgehog).

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Yo Yo - why?

Y'see, now I'm cheating.  The title of this post is designed to entrance you, to draw you in... to persuade you that there is some intrinsic question about yo-yos of which you were previously unaware.

They go up.  They go down.  that's pretty much it.

No.  I am sniggering behind my hand at my own cleverness, for this week's post should really be entitled 'why oh why oh why'... do you see what I did there?  Oh, you did.  Oh well.  Anyway.  Such is the title because I have been 'tagged'.  No, it's not another one of those ankle-jewellery ones, and besides I've been absolutely stringent in not approaching either David Mitchell or Tony Robinson since the last round of injunctions, I know when I am beaten and I have reconciled myself to the fact that neither of these are going to be popping round with an unsuspected diamond and any amount of unrequited longing.  No, this is a different form of taggage, one I have been given by the lovely Catherine Miller, on her blog, which you can have a squizz at here ... where she fetchingly entitles it 'why,why,why' but that would give me a blog heading of 'YYY?' which is just odd, even for me.  And I am linking to here also, because I think this is where the idea came from, which is right and proper because we all know that 'why?' is a question most often asked by small children, even about things that they already know, because they need to check that the answer hasn't changed in the last five minutes.

Surely I cannot be the only mother in existence who has, from either boredom, shortage of time or sheer devilment, answered the 'why?' question with a variety of answers?  For example - 'why are sheep white?'
'well, dear, because they are bred to have white wool because then it's easier to dye it different colours when you're making something from the wool', becomes 'because someone washed them' and then 'because all the blue ones died horribly in a tragic accident'... oh.  It was just me... Oh well.  That probably explains quite a lot about my children.

So, in the spirit of the 'why', I shall think of some of my own...

Why, when I self-admittedly have all the sensitivity of a large carrot, do I have the ability to feel every tiny little lump in my bed at night?  Even weeny little crumbs assume enormity and wedge themselves under my buttocks, ensuring a sleepless night unless I strip the entire sheet off and remake the bed.

Why are clouds?  They hang there, in the air, and no-body thinks it is odd.  I mean, yes, I get the whole condensation thing but...doesn't anybody else think they are downright suspicious?  Especially for things you can't even touch... there will be aliens behind all this, you mark my words.

Come on, you can't tell me they're not planning something...

Toffee.  Why?  Delicious and everything but, really, just advanced self-dentistry in a block.

Why are weekends so short, compared to any other two days of the week?  Take, say, Tuesday and Wednesday.  They positively creep past, sixty minute hours and everything, and yet Saturday evening is gone in a flash and two crates of Guinness.  Oh. Feel I may have answered my own question there.

And finally.  Why, when I buy something and get it home and it isn't what I thought it was going to be, don't I just take it back to the shop?  Why do I make excuses for it and fiddle with it and eventually find it a use as something that it patently isn't and isn't even any good at, but keep using it as anyway?  I refer you to the lampshade tea-pot cosy, the cordless-drill coat hanger and the treadmill cat-bed.

And now, apparently, I have to tag some other, innocent bloggers, who are probably sitting there all innocently at this moment, staring out over the lovely landscape just outside their windows and thinking of...well, knowing my friends, nothing very much.  And I must press them to think of unanswered 'why's' of their own?  Just one question there - why?

So, if you are tagged, please feel free to have a tantrum and moan and throw things and never speak to me again...  because, here you are...

Margaret James 

Kate Johnson 

Talli Roland

Sue Jackson

Chris Stovell

Please feel free to ignore me, chaps, but if you want to think of some 'why's' - now is the time to vent your spleen!  And, if you can only think of Y-fronts, then come join me in the increasingly feverish attempts to remove the leg-tags!

I'm coming, boys!  I'm coming!  Just wait for me to get this tag off....

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Book Stuff - yes, real, stuff, about books!

You can't have failed to notice my slipping you a quick one this Wednesday.

Oh.  You didn't notice?  Well, never mind, because I shall reiterate.  No, that's nothing to do with lino - why would you think it would have something to do with lino, when have I ever talked about lino?  Why would you even need to know about lino?

This week, the new cover of my new book, which is new, was revealed.  It looks like this: -

There.  A slightly different angle from the Wednesday one, but, you know, it's a book, you can turn them round and look at them sideways if you want, and this cover is designed to allow you to do just that!

So.  As you can see, it's entitled Hubble Bubble,and  has a very nice picture of a cauldron, a bottle of poisonous-looking stuff and an old book, so I think that you can guess what it's about.  No, it's not my book of recipes.  No-one would pay for that, because most of my recipes are written on little pieces of paper and shoved into inaccessible places, for the good of mankind, although I still maintain my 'Jam and Baked Bean Rice Krispie Crunch' is a noteworthy advance in the cause of cookery.

This is a book about witchcraft.  But pretty rubbish witchcraft, as practiced by a group of women who each have one specific wish they perform spells in order to get.  Mainly though, it's about Holly Grey, a woman who doesn't wish for anything, because she's happy with her life the way it is, doesn't believe in any of that 'magic' twaddle and is far too busy working, visiting her brother and hanging around with her friend Megan to have time for prancing around anything at all.  Let alone a cauldron.

But, you know I wrote this book?  And you know my books are never simple, don't you?  So this one has a lot of truly chaotic elements in, some involving actual elements - well, it snows a lot at one point.  A lot.  It is set in North Yorkshire, where it does sometimes snow quite a lot.

Like this.  There is also an incident of childbirth - but if it's all right with you I won't put up a picture to illustrate that, we all know how it goes, don't we? Like trying to get an umbrella out of a chimney without putting it down first.

There is also a woman who works in BHS, so if cushions and lampshades are any kind of 'trigger' for you, then approach this book with caution, some bonkers people, some people who are really quite normal, a Jeep, handcuffs, motorbikes -  and a Welsh journalist called Kai Rhys, who not only doesn't believe in magic, he doesn't believe in anything very much at all.

And you have to wait until June to find out what the hell it's all really about.  Mwhahahhahahahhahaha!

Oh, and there's also an enormous, sticky, badly-behaved, scruffy dog called Rufus.  Who's based on my dog, Tiggy, only is much, much bigger.

Imagine this, only huge.  And without the laundry basket.