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

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Spring. It's not just meant to be an amusing 'boinnngg' noise, you know. It's meant to be a Real Thing.

I'm sitting, over here, look up a bit and to your left.. staring at a calendar.  My expression is...screw up your eyes and picture it... a cross between exasperation, disbelief, anger, annoyance, a sheer numb acceptance and a teeny little bit of weary resignation.  Are you picturing it?  My eyes are all slitty and squinty, my nose is wrinkled, my mouth is all 'grrrrrr' and I am sitting on my hands.

For the picture on my calendar, for March this year, is a lovely sunlit church surrounded by daffodils.  Well, yes, and gravestones as well, obviously, but it's the daffodils that are giving me the 'grrrrrrs' not the gravestones, because they would be there anyway.  Daffodils.  And sunshine.

This is the very one.  Farndale church.  Daffodils.  Sunshine.  Grrrrr not pictured.  And do you know why this lovely, innocent picture is giving me the unholy grrrrs?  I am sure you, in your perspicacity and sagaciousness can work it out....

Because this -

The 'Three Helgas'.  They aren't happy either.
is what is currently outside my window.  Daffodils - none.  Sunshine - well, a little bit, but there's a forty mile an hour gale taking most of the benefit, the hens don't need to fly they just jump and glide.  No snowdrops, nothing.

And I am unhappy about this.  I am not one of nature's 'warm people', in fact it has been posited that there is some kind of reptilian blood in my veins, particularly by anyone attempting to share a duvet with me during a chilly night.  I have endured a winter, throughout which the only thing keeping me going has been the prospect of spring - that and lots of cups of hot tea, fleecy lined trousers and an electric blanket - and now spring is here more sort of, isn't.  I'm FED UP with having to wear so many clothes that I cannot bend my arms or legs, TIRED of having to sleep under two simultaneous duvets, IMPATIENT with knowing that I have to start my car fifteen minutes before I have to leave home to go anywhere simply so that I can clear a small hole in the ice-layer in order to see where I'm going and INCREDIBLY CROSS that my mouse-hand is frozen into a kind of claw-shape, and has gone blue.  And has, now I come to look at it, actually FALLEN OFF.

Send me the forms, people, I am going to make an Official Complaint.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Facebook Side Bar Adverts - if she 'looks 27' then I look 17...

I've just had another one.  After all the fuss I made about the last one, you'd think they would have learned their lesson, wouldn't you?  But no, I look again today, and there it is....

Oh.  Sorry, yes.  Here I am talking about Facebook Side Bar Adverts.  Specifically, adverts that have a headline such as 'Mom (yes, Mom, because I am clearly American) of 51 looks 27', accompanied by a picture of a woman who looks like a fish.  She also looks well the far side of 51.  Unless, I am now allowing the possibility, she is 51 in tortoise-years.  And therefore looking 27 also in tortoise years and, as I am reliably informed (well, I asked a child and they always know these things) tortoises - the big ones, because this woman is NOT SMALL and you would not want to find her in your garden with a name painted on her shell, eating your lettuces - can live to be 200, which would make her around 56 in human years, which is probably nearer the mark.

And now I've got a new one.  A woman who, this time, looks younger, but has a mouth that...well...look

and this is inviting me to buy a product that will 'erase wrinkles', apparently.  Well, yes, I can see how that would work, blow my mouth up to the size of a small football and there won't be enough skin left on my face to have wrinkles.  I will look like a very surprised, and young, puffer-fish.  Which, of course, is what I look for in an advert.  I am also constantly being invited to follow a diet upon which 'Victoria Beckham (or sometimes Kate Middleton or Cheryl Cole) lost four stone in five weeks by following 2 simple steps'.

Well, for one thing, if any of these three women ever needed to lose four stone in five weeks, I suspect that the two simple steps they took would be up into a private clinic where they would have the surplus stoneage removed whilst they lay on a bed and read Chat Magazine, and also, if they lost four stone, even collectively, they would become completely invisible and could, therefore, take as many steps as they wanted because we wouldn't be able to see them do it.  And, no, thank you Facebook, I don't need to lose four stone anyway...

I could block the ads, but I derive a perverse kind of enjoyment from them. For example, one is currently attempting to sell me 'new season ballet pumps in exciting colours', which makes me puzzle on so many can there be 'new season' ballet pumps?  Were there any old season ones? They look just the same as last year's ballet pumps, would anyone know if I were to secretly wear those, and merely pretend that I was wearing the new season ones? And how does Facebook know what I consider to be 'exciting' in a colour?  I mean, they might think that bright red is exciting, whereas I regard it as merely 'fairly interesting', and yet become stimulated beyond reason at a vague shade of primrose yellow.

Besides, if I block them I would no longer get this..

and it's this cuteness that makes my days worthwhile. All right, I'm odd.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Johnny Depp and a cure for insommnia.

I'm not a great sleeper.  Now, that's not to say that I don't love my bed more than almost anything else in the entire world - I could happily live in my bed if someone could only invent something that meant I didn't have to get out to attend to...well, you know, needs.  Some kind of Wallace and Grommet contraption, maybe a funnel and a bucket and some kind of remote-controlled flap effort. Oh, and a long handled grabby thing that would mean I could reach books from the shelves, and something that would let the hens out and shut them in and walk the dogs.  All right, so perhaps life in bed is unrealistic for someone in my circumstances, ie, in full command of all my limbs, and I certainly wouldn't like to be forcibly confined to bed, so...

Where was I?

Ah yes, sleeping problems.  I have become prone to the Sudden Jerk.  No, that's not a man who arrives unexpectedly in the middle of the night, behaving badly and waking me up.

Behave as badly as you want, Johnny.  You are welcome any time...

It is that horrible thing, when you wake up from what was previously a lovely deep sleep, with your brain racing and trying to multiple-solve every problem you've had in the last six weeks.  That thing.

And I have, inadvertently, hit upon a cure.  Well, no, not a cure, the only thing that will absolutely cure the Brain-Race problem would be enough money to, you know, actually pay for things and no worries about kids, dogs, health, strange noises downstairs, family, that odd smell of burning.. So it's less of a cure and more of a preventative.  Do you want to know what it is, people?

Books.  Audio books, to be exact.  My own, to be even more exact.

Yes.  I am in the fortunate position of having just about all my books (even the early ones) available as audio books.  In fact (prepare yourselves for a gratuitous plug here, people) my most recent release from Choc Lit, the incomparably-titled Vampire State of Mind has just become available too!  Look here

See?  Anyway, just in case you've made it this far and aren't still dribbling over the picture of Johnny (join the queue, just bear in mind that I am at least three in front of you), here is what I do.  I take my own audio book, transfer it to ITunes, and leave it playing on my computer during the night!  It's like being read to by myself!  I have to say that I use my own books not for reasons of gratuitous self-aggrandisement, but for the simple reason that I already know how it ends, and therefore do not have to stay awake to, for example, find out whodunnit.

Trust me, it works.  Mind you, the last person I said that to still can't stand upright during electrical storms so, you know, your mileage may vary.  But I recommend it thoroughly, because now, when I wake during the night, I find myself listening to the story and therefore being distracted by whatever woes may currently be uppermost in my highly-trained mind.  Of course, I sleep alone.

Now I come to think of it, this may be why.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

"I'm Free!" - with apologies to all the Mr Humphries' out there, including Jake and John. Who spells his name differently, anyway.

Well, yes, it's true, I am positively giving it away. Hither and thither and yon and all akimbo I flaunt myself for your delectation, and do not charge you for the pleasure. That's practically the definition of me, but in this case it is Please Don't Stop the Music about which I speak.  Or write, if you aren't sitting next to me.

For yes, Please Don't Stop the Music is currently FREE, always supposing you possess a Kindle (and if not, why not?  Wonderful things, just don't drop it in the bath.  But then, even paperbacks don't come off too well if you drop them in the bath - I did this once with a book. Can't remember which one, probably the only J R Ward I've ever tried to read, Lover Unhinged or something.  Anyway, upshot is - you can dry them out over the radiator but only if you enjoy reading ninety pages of papier mache) or one of those newfangled Apple devices.  I don't know how well they fare if you drop them in the bath, but I'm betting that it's not pretty.
They look like this, apparently. I don't know.
   This is it, being Book of the Week and free on the Itunes thingummy, should you wish to go and look and, perhaps, obtain.  Of course, if you are reading this blog at some future point this will not apply, and all you will be able to do is gnash your teeth, with a possible option on rending some garments, and then hop over and buy the thing for real money.

It's also here for the aforementioned Kindle, where it has been (and may still be, unless you are, again, reading this at some point in our future, in which case, quick, tell me next week's Lottery numbers).  But, again, it's only for a limited time, so you should hurry before they're all gone, or whatever happens to electronic books when they run out. 

I quite like being free. It's very unencumbering, like taking your socks off and running through mud or sitting in the sea with no pants on.