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Sunday, 29 July 2012

Exeter Library is hosting a Choc Lit Event! With Margaret and Linda and me! Although I may be muzzled for my own good...

Exeter Library.  What it looks like, if you are a mole.
Today I have been packing.  I even IRONED, people!  (Now, do you see the importance of punctuation there?).  Because tomorrow I am leaving the loveliness of North Yorkshire bound for the glories of Devon.  Yes, the land where I was so skilfully constructed, using only the finest Devonshire rivets, claims me once more, this time to strut alongside fellow Choc Liteers, Margaret James and Linda Mitchelmore at Exeter Library.  This is how we are advertised.

Title: Writing Romance - With Linda Mitchelmore, Margaret James and Romantic Novelist of the Year Jane Lovering
Date:Wednesday 1 August
Time: 19:30 - 21:00
Description: Ever wondered how to write and publish award-winning fiction? Join in the Q & A, chaired by Cathie Hartigan, CreativeWritingMatters
Cost:Tickets cost £4 and £2 can be redeemed against books purchased on the night
Bookings: Tickets available soon from Waterstone’s Romangate and Exeter Phoenix - phone the Box Office - 01392 667080
Organiser:Exeter Library Live
Partner: Choc Lit, CreativeWritingMatters & Waterstones                                       
Should you choose to come along I am sure you will be made most welcome.  I hardly ever throw things at people any more, and I know that Margaret and Linda are the very models of decorum and will sit on my hands if I try to, for example, lob banana peel at the audience.  So, yes, do come and see us.  I will probably be behind some kind of protective screen or something, and I will have been sprayed with the most potent of insecticides, so you will be quite safe.  Although, if I stand up and try to gnaw through any leather straps that I might have about my person, you would be best advised to run for the exits...actually, if I were you I'd crawl.  Try to stay below my eyeline.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

10 things I love about you - by 'you' I mean the school summer holidays.

Firstly.  I don't have to get up at 6 o clock in the morning.  I don't know if you've ever seen 6am, but it's not pretty, it tends to have a greyish sheen to it on account of being seen through a haze of half-awake, although it does have the redeeming characteristic of not having Jeremy Kyle in it anywhere.

If it looks like this, you haven't opened your eyes yet.  This is a good move. Do your best to keep it that way.

Secondly. Books.  I can sit and read a book without having to be somewhere else, dental appointments notwithstanding. Books are, as far as I can tell, the main reason for holidays.  Or it could be the other way around, I forget. But.  Books.  My TBR (to-be-read, for the unitiated) pile is now so large that it has been annexed by Denmark.

Thirdly. I am in when the postman comes and, therefore, able to give him a Hard Stare when my copy of Fortean Times is late.  It might not be, and probably isn't, his fault, but still.  It's the principle of the thing.

 This is the thing of which it is the principle.

Fourthly.  No photocopying or eyeballs.  Nuff said.

Fifthly, which is definitely not a number because it looks so stupid written down.  My bed. I could quite happily live here forever, and work interferes with this desire. I don't even have to be asleep.  Although I do worry that my Memory Foam mattress may have to go into therapy to forget some of the things I do there.

Why, what did you think I meant?

Sixthly. I get to write all day if I want to.  Sometimes, if edits are due, even if I don't want to.

Seventhly.  I get to increase my knowledge of Tea Shops of Yorkshire.  I am on a one woman mission to sample all the varieties of scone (that's scown, not scon which is not a real word, more like an expression of displeasure) that Yorkshire has to offer. I fear this may be age-related, like loss of short term memory and an inexplicable fixation with John Nettles.

Eighthly. I can spend time carrying out the important task of being actively engaged in the promotionally advantageous social networking sphere.  Yes, all right, I mean I can spend all day sitting on Facebook. But that's important! How else will I find out what the weather is like in Hemel Hempstead and whether or not close friends are having apple crumble for tea?

I have to know these things.  Just because, all right?

Ninthly.  Did I mention the thing about the postman?  I did?  Oh.  Well, it's important.  Plus, sometimes he brings me cheques, and I can take them straight to the bank during the holidays, instead of having to wait for a convenient time, which is almost always when the bank is closed, and the children and I have to sit around in the street with clogs and shawls on and wait for them to open so that I may obtain money with which to buy food.  Like Catherine Cookson.  Well, not her personally, but her books.  Only with less herrings.

Tenthly.  To sum up; no getting up at some single-digit hour that even the milkman regards as too early; the ability to read an entire novel without having to put it down somewhere that I later forget and only finding it when I've forgotten what the plot was and having to start it again with cat pawprints over the essential denoument; prompt delivery of my UFO news; no bullocks' bobbly bits in a bag; horizontal HobNobs; writing; Yorkshire Tea shops (hereby to be known as Parkin spaces...); Twitter, without the guilt, and catching the bank actually open.

And there you have it.  Six weeks of the above.  Happy school holidays, everybody! And my commiserations to those with small children....

Monday, 16 July 2012

RNA Conference, I make another very odd speech, lots of people are very kind (or, at least, drunk with style) and cats.

Ah good, you're still here.  I must apologise for my tardiness in the blogitude this week, but I was attending the Great RNA Conference in Penrith, (no, it's not in Wales.  No, it's not in Cornwall either.  Just - I don't know, look it up or something).

And truly it was a marvellous thing.  So many old friends!  Some of them are old whilst remaining quite young, in a trick previously unknown to physicists, and some of them are new friends whose age remains indeterminate because it always seems impolite to accost a new acquaintance with the phrase "how old are you, because I need to know where to file you on the friendship-timeline', don't you think?  Anyway.  There I was.  And whilst there, I received The Rosebowl.  It has joined my other trophies in the land of cat-inaccessibility.  Look. 

Is this not a delicious sight?  It was previously much dustier, but I blew quite hard.
I don't have any roses though, which is a drawback. I'm thinking of filling it with Maltesers, but this may be a short-lived activity, plus there's some quite nice decoration on that bowl which might never look the same again if subjected to the briefest touch of a chocolatey ball.

You know who you are...
There were also moments of quiet fun.  Like this.  Those bottles are, in fact, stunt bottles, the chocolate is artificial and the grins are sponsored by M&S.  Not S&M.  And my lips are sealed on the 'fisting' debacle...

The most wonderful time was had by all and sundry, the people were, as ever, brilliantly tolerant of my inability to tell the difference between 'appropriate' and 'inappropriate' comments, Kate Johnson will never, ever discuss Fifty Shades of Grey with me again, and many other people will wince ever time that rosebowl is on public display - suffice it to say, for those of you who weren't there, my 'wee' comments during my previous speech were NOTHING compared to what I said this time...

And now, for those who were mentally scarred by the whole 'Jane Makes a Speech' event, here's a picture of cute cats.

Abraxus and Cal asleep on the sofa.  Yes, it does look uncomfortable, doesn't it?  But they are already planning how this pose will look when performed in a rosebowl.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

A small insight into how I came to write about Vampires. And more pictures of really BIG knickers. But mostly writerly insights. Honestly.

In somewhat less than a month (well, thirty days, actually, but since it's only me that's counting, let's call it a month, shall we?  Go on, humour me) my latest novel will be released upon you in all its paperback glorification. It's available in its Kindle glorification now, if you're interested, look, here although I can completely understand your desire to have a concrete article clutched between your warm, sweaty pectorals.  No, no, it's not really made of concrete, obviously, because this would be impractical and heavy, although nicely waterproof for bathtime reading, also handy for swatting flies just as long as they didn't land on anything precious or breakable. But useful for propping open doors...maybe I should investigate this new material for books further...  And now I'm thinking about your pectorals...  ooh, nice vest...

Ahem.  Anyway.  Vampire State of Mind, for such is the novel of our current conversation, is poised, trembling in the slips.  No, it's not hiding in my underwear drawer, besides, do I look to you like the sort of person who wears a slip?  Quite frankly, you are lucky I'm wearing knickers, never mind the more ethereal of undergarments.
The underwear du jour...
There is, you should be warned, nothing ethereal whatsoever about my knickers. But, that's fair enough, since there is nothing ethereal about my bottom. If you are looking for something ethereal, here you go...

Ether, either, let's call the whole thing off... Sorry.

Now, you see what you have done?  I arrived here all full of straining eagerness to talk about my vampires, and now you've got me on to the twin subjects of underwear, and your chest. You really know how to lower the tone, don't you? Anyway.  What I was going to talk about, before you started on about nether regions and stuff, was how I came to be writing about vampires in the first place.  Well, I shall tell you, lovely people who aren't at all underpant-obsessed...

One day I started wondering.  Oh, I don't know which day.  Maybe it was a Sunday.  Yes, let's say it was a Sunday.. I was wondering about general vampire fiction, where human women fall madly in love with a vampire and, inexplicably in most cases, this love is returned, and this is where I started wondering... how the hell does she think this is going to work?  I mean, in twenty years' time, he's still going to look young and gorgeous and she's going to look a bit...well, let's face it, large underwear is going to be worn, isn't it? And bits are going to be heading south, and, given another ten years she's going to start forgetting where she put the car keys and why she's still got her slippers on, and in another twenty years people are going to think she's his grandmother - so how can it possibly work?  Without her becoming a vampire and therefore the entire book being about two perfect, immortal people being perfect and immortal together?  Which, come on, isn't exactly something we can all relate to, is it?

I mean, essentially, we are looking at this

Ian 'sometimes plays a vampire' Somerhalder

going out with this

Generic old woman. Well, a mask really.  So as not to offend real old women.
and I think we can all see the discrepancy, can't we?  If we can't, I suggest that we take a visit to SpecSavers, which might just save us from a long, and humiliating series of failed dating experiences.

And this then got me thinking about why a vampire might love a human, and how it must feel to be nearly immortal and constantly watching people you love die.  Like being Doctor Who.  And then I started thinking about how your personality would change if that happened, and what kind of a person you would become.  No, not you, I already know what kind of a person you are. You're obsessed with knickers, for a start.

So I wrote Vampire State of Mind. About people.  Some of them are vampires.  Some of them can't work an electric pencil sharpener, some of them have absolutely no sense of humour, and some of them are severely addicted to HobNobs, but they are all people, underneath.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and look at that picture of Ian Somerhalder again, for a while.  About a week should do it...

Sunday, 1 July 2012

I tell you about my travels. And swans. No, don't rush off, there are pictures...

Happy First of Julie, everyone!  I am a little tardy today because I've, not bigger on the inside, that's tardis, and I've never been a little Tardis.  No, what I have been is to Oxford, where I was collecting Daughter Number One from University.  I should, at this point, mention that she is Number One in temporal placement in the family, not because I operate some kind of ranking system among my children, because this would a) be immoral b) be very difficult and c) lead to some extreme paperwork, the like of which I try to avoid.

So.  I was in Oxford.  Which is a very lovely city, in possession of more than one Thorntons chocolate shop and a Primark, both of which recommend themselves to me, but in very different ways.  But very busy.  Very, very busy, because it has been the end of term for the Universities, necessitating parents collections of their offspring, clutching bits of paper and wearing odd hats - almost exactly like when we used to pick them up from Playgroup, only now the bits of paper have degrees and things on, not handprints, and the hats are meant to look like that and are not made out of soggy paper and tinfoil.  Well, not usually, unless they go to a really progressive college.

All the hotels in Oxford were, in consequence full.  Of people, probably, I never stopped to ask.  I suppose they could have been full of Golden Retrievers, or cockatiels or something know, lacked the willpower to find out.  So we ended up staying in a place called Shillingford, at a lovely hotel by the river.  Look.

This is, both the river and the bridge. Yes, I don't know why it's called Shillingford when there is, quite patently a bridge.  Shillingbridge makes it sound like a really cheap toll road, I suppose.  But it's near Wallingford, where there is also a bridge, so, go figure, as they say.

And the weather was lovely, and the food was lovely, and the wedding, whose reception took place underneath our bedroom was, no doubt, also lovely, although sleeping to the booming sounds of 'Sex On Fire' coming up through the floorboards was a little tricky.  But, all in all, very lovely, and the disco did finish at midnight, which isn't bad at all on a Saturday night.

That is why I am late to the bloggage post today, anyway.  A four hour drive back from Oxford, complicated by the Sat Nav losing its way and having to stop and ask for directions from other Sat Navs, the addition to the carload of an exercise bike - if we'd stuck wheels on it she could have ridden it home - and the need for boiled sweets.

So, to finish, because, what with the late night disco, the stacking of the car with a complete daughter, the long drive over several counties (oddly enough, not the same counties as were there on the way down) and the subsequent removal of daughter's entire life from the car, I'm knackered, here is a gratuitous swan shot.  Because everyone likes swans, don't they?

They can break your arm, you know.  It's true, just under the water there is some fairly heavy-duty torture equipment; they can also rip out your fingernails and cause a lifelong seafood allergy.  Just bear that in mind next time you sling them your left-over Warburtons.