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Sunday, 25 March 2012

My David Mitchell Disappointment and how very, very tight lycra helped me over it. Phew. Yes. Might need a lie down...

Today (and forgive the amount of dribble that decorates this blog) was the day of the Stokesley Duathlon.

Please, take a minute to think what this means to me.  Having so recently lost David Mitchell (who, for those of you who don't know, has thrown me over for the charms of Victoria Coren, leaving me devastated and the possessor of a nearly-new wedding dress and over four hundred ready-printed invitations, in which my name has been misspelled as 'June Loaftin'), I attended the start of the Duathlon as a spectator purely because it is such a lovely day.  Oh, and because of the miserable pain I am currently enduring with all the fortitude of a small hen (I have managed to sustain a 'frozen shoulder' which consists of agony, followed by even more agony and the inability to lie, sit, stand or move without horrible morbid suffering on my part, because I am a complete wuss) I was up early. Very early.
In my wardrobe. Wet with my tears.  Also some cat wee, but that will sponge out...

Did everyone else know that the clocks went forward last night?  Several of my clocks went so far forward that they actually fell off the shelf.  So I woke up (having eventually fallen asleep filled with so many painkillers that my tonsils made a kind of knocking noise when I breathed in) at what should have been seven o clock.  Which is fine and civilised and all that, particularly when (and I hate to go on about this, when I know that there is a whole Medical Encyclopaedia of horrible things that I could be suffering from, because I've read it and suffered from most of them, if only briefly) I'd only fallen asleep at about two in the morning. Only it wasn't seven o clock, was it?  (A rhetorical question for those of you whose clocks remained intact and mysteriously lost an entire hour... where did it go, that's what I want to know.  Someone's got it...)  It was eight, and the Duathlon set off at ten.

So, to cut a long story, I mean shorts...short, there I stood, whilst a number of men ran past me in very tight lycra. Very tight.  Do I have to draw you a picture?  All right...

My hands were shaking.

And then they came back and did it all again, on bicycles.

I'm looking upon this as the Universe trying to make up for the David Disappointment.  It succeeded.  In the spirit of disclosure I have to mention that there were women there too, also running in lycra.  Probably.  Right.  I have to go now and make some lunch.  I think we might have sausage rolls, followed by a banana and some satsumas. Or maybe a pork kebab...

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Why editing is so, I'm not taking you swimming!

I am editing.  I think I may have to have this printed on a T shirt.  I. Am. Editing.
A serene process, which I conduct with a smile.  In my dreams.

For some reason this is not admitted to be True Writing and is therefore interruptable to an insane deg...what?  Hold on a minute...  No, I don't know where all your socks went.  No, I didn't have time to do a complete load of washing, hang it out, dry it and then fold it away into those drawers designated for underwear which somehow also manages to be located all over your bedroom floor.  Because I. Am. Editing...

Sorry, where was I?  Ah yes.  Editing.  Sitting staring at a screen and wondering why the HELL I ever said what I said in the first place and why my timeline is more wibbly wobbly than a Stephen Moffat episode of Doctor Who, and why...

Hold on.

Look, if you'd wanted a lift into town, why didn't you say so twenty minutes ago?  Well, how can you have 'just decided'?  You'll have to wait until... so what if your friends all go without you? Resign yourself to being a social outcast who never goes to Pizza Hut with all the cool girls - and then you can become a writer like me!

Editing.  Yes.  The story is written and, in concert with my long-suffering editor, I am now tweaking and perfecting, ironing out those little snaggy bits and smoothing my characters down into something...

Sorry about this...

No, I am not going shopping.  I don't care if there's nothing to eat except dog biscuits and Weetabix, I will perform a creative culinary marvel in the kitchen later.  You know, when it's a mealtime.  Or midnight. Whichever comes soonest.  I. Am. Editing.

Repeat after me.  I. Am. Editing.  I am not -

lying on the sofa eating Walnut Whips and watching Midsomer Murders
playing any of the numberless games on Facebook that people keep sending me - why the hell would I want to play 'Farmville' when I don't have time to walk my own dogs and my chickens have taken over the living room?
idly reading my way through my stack of To Be Reads, scratching my legs and singing Lego House under my breath
standing in the bathroom wondering what I went in there for, realising it was for a wee, cleaning the toilet and then going out again, only to come back two minutes later for the wee I went in for in the first place

Honestly. All right?

Now, go away, I've got four Farmville requests, two Walnut Whips and a new Marian  I mean, I've got to sort this timeline out and these character arcs won't write themselves you know!
This is how I truly appear.  Sadly.  Just ask the postman.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Awards are like kittens, except you don't have to polish kittens. And they don't take your fingerprints.

Here in North Yorkshire Spring is sprung more firmly than an orthopaedic mattress, the sun is shining through the windows drawing attention to the dust and grime that have collected since...well, actually, given my approach to housework, since forever, and glinting gently off the planes and angles of my award.

Did I mention I'd won an award?

Ah.  Thought I might have done.  After all, it has been a cause of some celebration chez Lovering, although I haven't quite worked out my approach to getting the dust off it without compromising some of my more deeply-held beliefs vis a vis housework.  I thought that my usual 'Mother In Law is coming to visit, quick, make the place look presentable' approach (ie, run around blowing furiously at all flat surfaces, until whole inside of house invisible in dust cloud, then open windows and blame wind from Sahara) might work, but unfortunately glass is sticky.  Particularly when covered in fingerprints from frequent fondling.  I cuddle that damn award more than I'd cuddle a kitten that's been particularly poorly.
Did I mention I'd won an award?

Or this.  Tough choice, huh?

So, it turns out that it's less an award and more some kind of police procedure.  If anyone in authority gets their hands on it, a lot of unsolved crimes might become a lot less unsolved, that's all I'm saying.  Those 'prints from an unknown animal' that they found smeared all over the windows of the house that Johnny Depp stayed in in Bath when he came there to film?  Ahem.  And those points on it are really..well, pointy.  If I should fall over whilst carrying it - there's a whole Midsomer Murders episode, right there.

Anyway, where was I?  Ah yes, Spring in the House of El Smugo.  Well, I've reasoned that if I keep all the curtains closed then the dust isn't visible, plus the cobwebs keep the flies at bay. The overgrown lawn gives the hens something to do and that the dog hair on the floor is nearly as good as carpets.

Yep, my house is just like Sleeping Beauty's castle.  Boy is Prince Charming in for a shock if he comes riding by and thinks 'ooh, that looks like the place I might find a gorgeous, young princess lying awaiting a kiss...'  The screaming would be audible in Devon.  His, not mine, obviously.  Hacking your way through a lifetime of dust, undergrowth and crumbling brickwork to be greeted by
 this... probably also clutching a dusty and smeared award under one arm and a recovering kitten under the other, and I think maybe also cackling...well.  You can imagine, I'm sure.

Right.  Better get off now and polish my award...I mean, do some housework. Or lie in bed and eat toast. Hmmm... eenie meenie miny mo...

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Romantic Novelists' Association Awards, a dress like a lampshade and thanks to people I was too drunk to thank at the time

I think I mentioned, did I not, my little chocolate-covered Cheerios, that this week's blog would be a touch late on account of my attending the RoNAs on Monday in London?  Oh, I am sure I mentioned it.  Anyway.  On Monday I turned up in some degree of finery (actually I was loosely disguised as a lampshade) at One Whitehall Place (it was so big that I'm not sure that there was room for Two and Three Whitehall Place, it seems that the whole of Whitehall Place was just a big Number One, which is far better than it being a huge Number Two, when you come to think of it).  Here I am, 'enjoying a joke' as they used to say on the Deb pages of Country Life, with my fellow nominees for the Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year.  Although it may appear that I have a bucket under my dress that is merely an illusion caused by lack of alcohol.

Anyway.  The whole event went off beautifully.  I sat and drank much pink champagne, and was, in fact, right in the middle of quaffing a glass when my name was announced as the winner of the Romantic Comedy Novel!  Yes, just like that, right in the middle of knocking back some alcohol!  Well, I had a good mind to make them wait!  But I was desperate for a wee and everything, and they were all so terribly nice about my book that I felt it politic to go and collect the award.  So I did.  In my lampshade frock and my nearly-but-not-quite-wellington boots and with my expression on sideways (because my mouth was trying to get back to the champagne) I stumped up onto the podium, collected the rather lovely glass star (WITH MY NAME ON IT!!) and said some words which appeared to make some kind of sense because people laughed and clapped, or perhaps they just wanted to encourage me to shut up and get back to the champagne.

And this is what I looked like afterwards.  Except everything from there on is a kind of blur.  I have isolated memories of Luke Roberts telling me about the six o clock bus to Machu Pichu (I think, although it could have been Manchester, it's all very fuzzy), Kate Johnson and I deciding to wear camouflage gear (yep, me neither, it all seemed to make some kind of sense at the time), getting lost in Covent Garden and only locating the other Choc Lit authors because Charing Cross Station is very, very hard to miss even when so drunk that unable to recognise other Choc Lit authors even close up.

And now, in true 'Luvvie' style, is a list of 'thank yous' that I fear I may have inadequately expressed at the time.
My wonderful agent Kate Nash, who fed me lunch before the event so that I wouldn't become too drunk.  That was a truly Epic Fail, but a nice try anyway. 
The Choc Lit crew, for getting Please Don't Stop the Music into any kind of shape to win anything other than Best in Show.
My co-nominated Choc Lit authors, Pia (Christina Courtney) and Kate Johnson for their company during a truly terrifying photographic experience.  Pia went on to win Historical Novel of the Year and Kate was nominated for Contemporary Novel (and was narrowly pipped at the post by Katie Fforde, sadly.  Well, not sadly for Katie, but sadly for us Choc Litters).
My gorgeous Other Half, Steve, who kept me upright, told me I would win and managed to focus for long enough to find the other Choc Lit crew in a Pizza Express where they had gone to hide from me.

And pretty much anyone else who knows me.  Your support has kept me going.  This award is for all of you too.  Look, here it is.  I know my name is on it, but your is too, in spirit.