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Sunday, 29 January 2012

Best chocolate to fall back on, inexplicable research and Old Mills...

When times are hard, I fall back on chocolate.  In fact, I've fallen back on chocolate so many times lately that I have a permanent Walnut Whip impression on my left buttock.  Despite their outwardly benign appearance, Walnut Whips can be surprisingly knobbly, don't let that fluffy marshmallow inside fool you - oh no!  If you're really going to have to land on confectionary, can I recommend something a little softer, possibly a Flake, which will spread the weight nicely if you work it right.  Of course, you're picking the bits out of your underwear for a week, and finding little bits of melted chocolate in your M&S knee-to-ankle gusset will cause you to believe that you are going quietly rusty, but I still recommend them over Walnut Whips.  Or bars of Fruit and Nut, because a badly-placed hazelnut can leave you walking in a strange way for a week.

I'm still looking for the walnut.  But, to be fair, I did land on it with some force.

I don't know why I digressed in such fashion, for times have been far from hard lately.  No, in fact they've been decidedly squashy, not to say splashy in their unhardness. Flaccid, in fact.  So to commemorate these decidedly unturgid times, I have been starting research for another novel.  Now, bear in mind, if you would, that I still have the vampires bubbling for release this summer, a novel about amateur witches in its second (or is it third?) reworking, and the anti-social astrophysicist awaiting some kind of resolution to his septic-tank debacle...  So why am I even thinking about another book?

That, my comfortably-seated dears, is a very good question.  And it all revolves around a corn mill, a Co-Op, a filled in ditch and gravestones. I have become ever-so-lightly obsessed with the fate of this mill, the filling in of the ditch and erasure of the mill-site, also the epitaphs carved on some local gravestones.  And the Co-Op does have some remarkably good bargains.  And so, I'm doing research!  See me doing research!  Now go away and let me go on with it.  Oh, and pass me those Walnut Whips on your way out...

Like this, only not, because it's not there now.  But when it was, it might have looked like this.  Or not.  Er, that's the Mill, not the Co-Op, obviously.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Tired as a newt. Plus inadvisability of nailing on tin whilst....

It occurred to me the other day that being drunk and being tired are pretty much the same thing.  I’m sure you understand what I mean – particularly you, there, at the back.  Both are the result of long evenings packed so full of enjoyment that there is little room left for sense or discrimination, both incline one towards slurring one’s words and sliding sideways in high heels and both tend to incline one (particularly when one is wearing high heels, where the plane of incline and the decline of morals tend to be of inverse proportions after a long evening) towards lying on the sofa eating rubbish and maintaining that Jaffa cakes should be one of your Five a Day.
Just say 'no'.  When you've stopped saying 'want want want', obviously...

And why, you cry, should such a thing occur to me?  Surely, Jane, you also cry, for your sympathy for my plight is only exceeded by your taste in blog post reading and your desire to throw fifty pound notes at me whenever I am in your vicinity – surely you have never experienced either of these states?  Your sobriety is a watchword whenever authors are gathered together, murmuring in hushed tones about your ability to turn down at least fifteen different types of cocktail, including the ones served with umbrellas by slippity-hipped young men in waistcoats.  And, with your troupe of willing helpers, only a few of whom are working under the influence of chloroform and hallucinogens and therefore believe themselves to be aiding the Empire against the evil Darth Vader, surely you know not of the travails of tiredness?

I leave you to decide whether these are cocktail mixing slippety-hipped young men, or part of my chloroformed troup.  And no, he is not peeing in the corner.

Well, my tender young trooplings, let my imperviosity to such human failings remain the stuff of legend, for indeed this week I have been subject to both tiredness and, ahem... something of an overindulgence in fermented fruit substances.  And I am here to tell you that there are certain tasks that one should not attempt to perform whilst under the influence of either.
Painting a ceiling
Nailing sheets of galvanised tin to any surface, particularly in a high wind
Attempting to stroke, pet or otherwise lay hands upon a feline
Writing, be it books, blog posts or merely a letter to the milkman.

So, if anyone knows suitable treatments for Artex-head, the curious banging sound that comes from the roof of the outhouse, severe wounds to face and neck (some which may require stitches) and forty seven pints of full cream milk, please let me know.  But I should wait for me to sober up first, if I were you....
 It may take some time.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

New cover... no, really! VAMPIRE STATE OF MIND -here it is!

This is possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.  I want to eat it.

Or, at least, roll naked over its glossy colours...  Premise is - vampires are here.  In Britain.  No sparkles, just a lot of arguing... And, before you ask, of course they are gorgeous!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Book covers. Beeeeyooootiful book covers for Vampire State of Mind. And a cheese hat. And a cactus, only it was a Yucca really, and I'm not seventy three.

Oh, the pain, the agony!  Yes, it's decision time again, and you know how having to decide things makes my brain go all 'clicky clicky whirrr', don't you?   And there's always a smell of hot cheese, for some reason I can't define, although it could be my Gruyere hat melting under the strain of thought.  For, lovely people, once more my publishers Choc Lit and I are trying to decide on the perfect cover for the new book, Vampire State of Mind.

Hush, hush, and get back in your seats, for this cover won't be revealed unto you for a bit longer.  For one thing we have to sponge my dribble off and get the teethmarks out, and for another, we haven't quite decided on one yet.  There's so many beautiful things to choose from when you write about vampires... well, there's teeth, for a start, and blood and gorgeous men, and mysterious, dark nights and... yes, all right, we could use an image of Johnny Depp's dentist at midnight, but that's not quite what we're going for here.  Although (she said, tantalisingly) it could be...  See what I did there, I'm trying to whet your appetites!  Subtle, yes?  No, no, you at the back, I'm not trying to wet your appetite, I couldn't do that from all the way over here, not even after those special exercises you recommended, I'm whetting it.  With a H.

 I know, I know, but I reckon a cover like this would just fly, don't you?  I mean, no vampires but... come on...

So, anyway.  I'm looking at lots of lovely potential covers, which all have my name on (no, you never get over the thrill of seeing your own name in print, unless it's the crime pages of the local paper who always spell it wrong anyway and it was a filthy lie about that thing in the Garden Centre; it was a Yucca not a cactus because I don't even think you can do that with a cactus and besides they got my age wrong too).

 Cactus asked for nine further counts to be taken into consideration....

And, oh, the agonies of decision!  And the smell of cheese... So many things to take into consideration; marketability, reader-expectations, font, image, monkeys...

There aren't any monkeys in the book, it's just that I tend to take them into consideration in whatever I do.  Otherwise you're just asking to have pooh thrown at you, aren't you?  Although I make no judgements here about how you spend your spare time, during the book-marketing process pooh-flinging is an unnecessary impediment to the real matter in hand, which is getting a really stonking cover onto the book.  And, since Choc Lit have provided me with a choice of stonk, it's time to go and crank up the hat...

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Symmetrical Dates, Stoat Grins, Body Snatching and Men.

OK, so we're a week into 2012, how's everyone finding it?  I feel it's a distinct improvement on 2011, but lacks a certain something when compared to 1804, although it does have that lovely 'bookended' feel to it.  I do like a symmetry in my dates, and am looking forward to 2020 like you wouldn't believe.

So, now that Christmas has slithered past like a greasy eel, 2012 has been launched down the slipway, aided by many bottles of fizzy stuff, and we're peering forwards to the promise of summer whilst grabbing handfuls of our Christmas flab and wondering whether 'hold-it-all-in' swimsuits really do hold it all in or let large amounts of it drift down the legs until a slender upper half is offset by enormously chunky knees, let us think about something else.

Here is a short list of things I am currently thinking about:

1.  The horrors of having my passport photo taken.  If I don't smile, I look like my dad.  If I do smile, I look like a hamster about to go for your throat.  Neither of these are conducive to international travel.

2.  Vampires.  Pondering on why on earth people should think that vampires don't have a reflection.  I mean, my vampires are humans infected with a parasite demon, and, if they had a reflection before why would a parasitic infection stop them being seen in mirrors?  I had roundworms once, and all they did was give me an itchy bottom - if they'd made me invisible to cameras it would have been a good thing, see above.  And where would it stop?  Could having a tapeworm mean that you couldn't write in anything but blue crayon?  And, while I am on the subject of vampires, please don't talk to me about sparkling.  Just don't.

Can we all say 'anti-evolutionary disadvantage'?

3.  Chocolate.  But, you know, nothing new there.  Although I am here to tell you that there is such a thing as too much chocolate.  Just believe me on that one, I did the research so you don't have to.

4.  Graveyards.  Well, churchyards, really, and mostly just the gravestones.  It's research, honest.  But if you should happen to be strolling through a dimly-lit graveyard one evening and startle a woman who, when she smiles looks uncannily like a rabid stoat, it will be me so pass on your way without interfering, and, no, the book I have in mind does not feature graverobbing, so if I have a shovel please stop me.  For the good of us all.

5.  Men.  It is my turn to produce a 'Wednesday Desirable Male' for the Choc Lit blog on 15 February and this is a subject which requires much deep thought.  Lots and lots of deep thought, more Googling than you would have thought possible, and a small amount of smutty sniggering.  Sigh.  It's a tough job but, there you go, someone has to do it.

Right. Better go and practice my passport face in the mirror until I find one which will both allow me into, and also out of, the country of my choice without sirens and full-body searches, finish off this box of chocolates and book on 'Body Snatching for Beginners' and then go and think about men a bit more.

And if anyone has any suggestions for men that I might think hot, please let me know.  I've used Tony Robinson and David Mitchell already, and after that it's all a bit of a blank.... 

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year's Revolutions

Firstly - a very Happy New Year to all of you sober enough to appreciate the sentiment.  I know, and profoundly hope, that is a very small number and that the majority of you are rolling around on the carpet muttering strange and bleary imprecations upon wine, or lying very still in a darkened room and swearing never, never to let another drop of alcohol pass your lips.  But.  For those of you that aren't - see above, the rest of them will just have to catch up later.

About June, probably.  I've seen the way they can drink.

Now.  Because it's a New Year, people have inexplicably taken to asking whether I've made any New Year's Revolutions.  I usually stare at them in a baffled way (because that's my default expression, that and this one....look... I'm doing it now....), and then I wonder if they mean when I turned over in bed just after midnight.  It wasn't really a revolution, as such, more of a half-wheelie with a double back duvet flip, but I suppose it counts, however, whenever I explain this to them they look at me in a similarly baffled way.

So I am supposing they must mean that, because this is a New Year, I must think of some major form of insurgence to perpetrate upon a small nation state. Most of the good countries are already spoken for, after all, although  I know that I have the power to make some Welsh people quite cross but I really don't think I can drive them to revolution, despite my, quite inflamatory, comments earlier this year about Aberystwyth, and am therefore at a bit of a loss. 

However, I've sorted the important details, such as the outfit I shall be wearing in order to revolve, my 'theme tune' ('Stay Awake' by Example - not particularly revolutionary as such, but it's good to dance to and if I'm going to be revolving, I'm going to be doing it to music), and my chant "Purple - because it's THERE!'.

So now I just have to think of somewhere to do it.  I'm thinking Yorkshire, because I'm already here and travelling to a revolution seems a bit..well...counterproductive, really.

I fear I may have my work cut out though.  Although I have noticed that the sheep are a little uppity at the moment and could, quite easily, be driven to acts of civil unrest.  If I play my cards right, and also obtain a large supply of sheep feed and a LandRover, I could be on to a winner, and also taking over a large part of the Moors!

So, altogether now!  'Purple!  Because it's THERE!'... why am I the only one shouting....?