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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.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

A midweek quickie...

Just popping by, lovely people, to let you have a quick squizz at this....

Out next June, from Choc Lit!

All right, all right, you can go about your business now. Go on... no, there's nothing else for you... No, I'm not even going to do The Dance...

Oh, all right, if you insist....

...there.  Happy now?

Sunday, 19 August 2012

If it's much above room temperature and it cracks when you bend it then I won't touch it.

I like mine pale, floppy and cold.  Lots of people like theirs steaming hot.  I know of one person whose has to be nearly black and smelling of burning.  But I suppose it's a matter of personal taste, and also what exactly you are going to do with it.

If you're wanting it for dipping, then obviously a degree of stiffness is essential, but if it's purely for ad-hoc (dare one say, almost recreational) purposes, then the rigidity is of less importance than the overall appearance.  Too hot and the aesthetic pleasure can disappear, but then if it is allowed to become too cold it can lose a lot of the immediacy of the olfactory experience....

What?  Oh.  Toast, obviously.  Why, what did you think I was talking about?

This is what toast looks like.  For normal people...

I grew up (and, as previously mentioned, also outwards) in the heady days pre-toaster.  In my youth, toast was made by hunching wretchedly over a waist-level grill, exhibiting various levels of boredom and indifference and indeed, in my case, generally wandering off to do something else and only returning when flames had actually reached the tea-towel.  In order to prevent me from actually, you know, incinerating my nearest and dearest (although, given my cooking habits, most of my dearest prefer to remain at quite some distance from me - whole continents have been used in order to prevent me trying to feed them such sensitive objects as scrambled egg or pie), my mother took to making my breakfast toast for me, during my formative years.

My mother, who grew up in those years when daylight was actively rationed, rises at six.  She makes toast at six.  And then, in what can only be described as a spirit of pure devilment, doesn't actually tell anybody about it.  Therefore, rising at a civilised hour, as in after the dawn chorus, meant, during my youth, being confronted by toast which was actually flexible.  I grew up believing that true toast could be bent in half and didn't so much crunch as tear.

The first time I was faced with toast in the format that most people would recognise, ie, stiff and with butter melting gently into the surface, I believe I actually cried witchcraft.  For, somehow, the chilly, floppy, butter-vehicle that I was used to seeing had become something turgid with melted dairy-product, with a crust that shattered beneath my teeth and which made a 'crunching' sound when eaten, rather than a noise like someone attempting to masticate a sheet of damp newspaper.

But for me, sadly, it was already too late. My preferences had become set in stone.  Now I am known for my daily 'waving of the toast' ritual, in order to cool it down, render it flaccid and make it a suitable receptacle for whatever my 'spread du jour' may happen to be.

Just don't get me started on jam.  Really.  Don't.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

I have been busy, plus I explain why I can't be famous without Bisto, a penguin suit and the Kirkbymoorside Brass Band.

Apologies for the lateness of this week's missive, I was delayed by unexpected visitors. Well, not that unexpected, it was my eldest son, his partner and their baby, and since I know of their existence, and that they don't live that far away, it was hardly completely unexpected.  Now, if someone had said to me 'a son, of which you had no prior knowledge, is going to drop in on you', that would have been unexpected.  So, I suppose this was more unscheduled.  But it still held me up.  So, anyway, here I am now.

And what a tootlesome busy week it's been indeed, in the Lovering household!

 On Tuesday (which was release day for Vampire State of Mind, available in all good bookshops at a reasonable price, also for Kindle), I was invited into the studios of Radio York.  Oh, it's all right, they usually invite me, they don't have to tempt me over the threshold by rattling a tin of Quality Street, it's all prearranged.  Mostly to give them time to insulate the bunker and give Russell Walker those special tablets that he has to take whenever I go in.  Anyway, I went and I talked to them, and it was all very nice and I got a cup of coffee, so that was good.

 On Wednesday I was in Waterstones at Scarborough, signing books - it's all right, they were my own books, I didn't break in to scribble in crayon in my arch-nemesis's backlist.  And I met some lovely people, some of who had heard me on Russell's show the day before, and came to look at me in the flesh.  Like this,

which was a lovely lady called Hettie, who came with her mother and bought books!  I do like it when I meet real people!  And some women's magazines had reviewed my vampires (it was 'Star' and 'Bella', to namedrop just a touch), and I put on a false nose and a moustache to rush into a shop and buy them, since they are not magazines which I normally buy.  I was probably the only Groucho Marx in the shop that day, but I like to think that I passed unnoticed.

And, on Thursday, because I'd been so busy, and got all over excited and everything, I had to have a nice lie-down, and I did some writing and ate some biscuits, which calmed me down.

On Friday, after I'd been woken up to be on Radio Leeds on the phone, talking about celebrations (that's the party-thing, not the chocolates, which was a shame because I can talk about chocolate for a very long time), my youngest daughter came back from a month-long trip to Kenya.  She climbed a mountain, got altitude sickness and her hair froze, then she came down and hefted bricks for three weeks.  But, apparently, it was all great fun, which is always nice to hear because Kenya is a long way to go to have a miserable time.  I can do that by going to the end of my garden, which is also cheaper and doesn't have elephants.

So, as you can tell, there has been much going on to fuel my writing-type work-thingie for a while, although mostly what it has done is fuel my desire to be on the radio talking about myself a lot.  It's almost like being famous, only without being on the front of Hello magazine, wearing unsuitable clothes, an orange tan and a member of a boy-band, which, I understand, is necessary these days in order to be famous.  I think I could probably manage the tan, or at least I could rub myself with Bisto, put on my celebrated Penguin Onesie, with the feet and the hood and link arms with the Kirkbymoorside Brass Band.

Which is probably as close as I'm going to come.  And with that mental picture, I shall leave you...

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Vampire State of Mind imminent. No, not eminent, I know the difference. Plus, bonus photo of Margaret James, Linda Mitchelmore and me!

I'm back!  And, once again, I can tell by the lack of surprise and delight on your faces that you didn't even realise I had gone... Sigh.  One day you are going to miss me, I tell you.  One day...

So.  "Where were you?" I hear you cry, in my fondest imaginings, for the real sound that I am hearing from you is the determined crunching of toast  and the occasional slurp, as you read my loving outpourings in a desultory manner over breakfast.  "Where were you, Jane? For we missed your sharp, observational wit, your bon mots, and the slight, but inexplicable smell of onion chutney which accompanies you."  Obviously, I am assuming that you would say this, if you'd noticed I was gone, so I'm filling in the gaps for you, to prevent you from having to put your tea down.

Well, my lovelies.  I was here...

Which, in case you don't recognise it, and if you don't then you clearly did not find the Onedin Line to be the engrossing saga of ordinary ship-owning folk that the rest of us did - it's Exeter Quay. To be precise, I was in the whole city, not just the quay.  Most specifically, doing this...

Yes, it was the finals of the World Sitting Down event! This is myself and my fellow Choc Lit authors (well, two of them, there are lots of us really but we wouldn't all have fitted in the room, besides, then I wouldn't have stood a chance in the Sitting Down Finals...).  You can see me here, in full sitting-down mode, also talking at some length (you can tell I'm pontificating from the glazed expressions on the backs of the heads of some of the audience), with Margaret James and Linda Mitchelmore. Presiding over us, also preventing us from descending into anarchy and rolling around on the floor making 'whoop whoop' noises, is the lovely Cathie Hartigan. And what were we talking about, I also don't hear you ask, but am, again, filling in for you?  Well, we were there to speak about Writing Romance.  Which is what we do.  Margaret was talking about her war-trilogy, The Silver Locket, The Golden Chain and The Penny Bangle.  Linda was talking about To Turn Full Circle, and I was muttering about my forthcoming Vampire State of Mind.

In fact, now I come to think of it, Vampire State of Mind is released on Tuesday.  You can buy it here .  In fact, I insist on it.  Go on, it's cheap at the moment... Although, if you are reading this some time in the future, it might not be cheap any more, it may only be available in its gold-plated version, with the diamond encrusted cover, and you are going to positively kick yourselves that you didn't get the more reasonably priced paper one.

So, there we were, in Exeter library, talking to some lovely people who asked some very perceptive questions and seemed pleased with the answers.  Some of them, the more discerning ones, obviously, even bought books.  And they laughed at me, although none of them pointed, which is always a plus, and no-one asked about the smell of chutney, so, all in all, a good evening!  And my millions of thanks go to Cathie, for refereeing us so splendidly, and to Margaret and Linda, for talking sense to the audience and giving them their money's worth, while I rambled, and tried to refrain from saying 'wee' or anything.

And finally, a nice picture of Montacute House, where I also went.  I used to live there, you know.  Montacute, I mean, not the house, although of course I lived in a house, it wasn't the house...

It's bigger than this in real life. Obviously.