Friday, 27 February 2009


I've had quite a few discussions with youngest daughter (aged 4) about quiet voices and SHOUTY VOICES this week. Of course I am glad that, as the youngest of three, she is not a down-trodden little pipsqueak who gets overlooked and daren't stick up for herself but all the same, I can't help wishing she wasn't quite so bloody-minded and LOUD.
There have been rather a lot of conversations like this:
Me: Holly, get your shoes on, it's time for playgroup.
Her: No.
Me: Now, please, we're going to be late.
Her: NO.
Me: Holly, just do it, please, without shouting.
Me: Stop arguing and put your shoes on!

It cracks me up, that 'I am NOT ARGUING!' Most of the time.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009


I've been caning it through lots of books lately - don't know why, perhaps a combination of crap telly and many Nights In recently, but I'm making a considerable dent in my always-towering To Be Read pile and very enjoyable it's been too. I was lucky enough to be sent an early copy of White Is For Witching by Helen Oyeyemi which has one of the most beautiful gothic covers I've seen - even the spine looks gorgeously and perfectly designed. I hadn't read anything by her before but she writes like a dream. (Sigh... and she's so young too... really trying not to be jealous...) I've written a review of it here if you're interested anyway.

Then, by way of complete contrast, I read 50 Ways To Find A Lover by Lucy-Anne Holmes which is out in April. My lovely editor sent me a proof and I can honestly say it's one of the funniest books I've read for a long time. It's based on the author's blog and is the story of Sarah Sargent who, crushed when the bald bloke in her local turns her down for a date because he'd rather watch the Narnia DVD, sets up a Spinsters Quest blog in the hope of finding the perfect man. She goes speed-dating, signs up to a dating agency, tries 'the older man' and visits a fetish club all in the name of a blog challenge and details everything in brilliant and hilarious detail. Honestly, it's fantastic, totally unputdownable, and is just going to be massive. You heard it here first...

Now, by way of another complete contrast, I'm reading The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry which is very good. Reminds me of The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox in so much as there's an old-lady-wrongly-locked-in-mental-institution-for-years element and I'm dying to find out how she ended up there. And I've also just treated myself to The Writer's Tale by Russell T. Davies which looks wonderful. And great research too, of course... ahem...

Half-term here so had better go - the house is ominously quiet which means there is no doubt some silent carnage and wrecking going on!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

OFFICIAL: Romance alive and well

(subtitle: Things that make you go Awwwwww)

Feels very odd to be sitting here on a Sunday morning (not a time I am usually at the computer) but I have wangled a day's work today in exchange for treating my husband and kids to seeing Bolt at the cinema later. I have soooo much work to do, it is really stressing me out, so we have negotiated a few Sundays here and there so that I can catch up. It's either that or youngest daughter has to have extra childcare and, even though she's four, I don't want her to have to go anywhere except playgroup. She starts school in September so I need to make the most of her while she's still little and at home. (Can you believe it... from September there will be no kids at home in the day for the first time in nine years! I'm not quite sure how I feel about that... a bit sad, to be honest, but also quite excited at the prospect of all that freedom again.)

Anyway, before I get stuck into this book I need to finish, I'm just warming up my typing fingers (and brain... am slightly hungover after lovely dinner out last night) with a quick post-Valentine post. I've called this 'Things that make you go Awwwww' but I know that for some people, too much mushy stuff makes them go 'Ewwwwww', and if that applies to you, you'd better look away now.
I am firmly in the first camp, though - the Awwwwws - and obviously many fellow Bathonians are too. We went up to see the Sham Castle yesterday, a fab old folly up on a big hill near the university. The kids were charging about through the trees and generally spoiling the romantic mood for all the hand-holders up there - and then my eldest daughter discovered a bag which had been hidden behind a tree. "Please do not move - secret Valentine surprise!" someone had written on it. How sweet is that?? I'm not sure what was in it - I forbade my daughter to open it (even though I was dying to know) but presumably it was some lovely gift that a romantic person was planning to spring on their unsuspecting beau. Forward planning! Fabulous.

Then, as we were heading back over the fields, we saw a young, rather sweet-looking couple - and he was shyly carrying a wicker basket, obviously planning a picnic up there (even though it was cold and vair vair muddy.) Bless!

And then, as we drove home, someone had spelled out 'Happy Valentines Day Bear' one letter at a time on posters pinned to the trees along the road. I mean... you've gotta love these romantics, haven't you? They really go for it. My cockles felt thoroughly warmed, I can tell you.

PS Car music update - Best of Jimmy Cliff yesterday. I am quite enjoying this, forcing my kids to listen to 'proper' music for a change.

PPS Villa v Everton this afternoon - a nail-biter, I'm sure. Come on, you Villa!

PPPS Have reached ten work-outs on the Wii Fitness Coach so have a 'Physical Challenge' in store from it later. I'm scared.

PPPPS Don't forget to check out the New Romantics website - I am sooooo excited and proud to be a part of it!

PPPPPS Can you tell I'm not really in a working mood? It's Sunday! It feels so wrong. But needs must. Here I go...

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Love is in the air...

Happy Valentines Day, one and all. Hope you are feeling the lurve!
If you're in a romantic kinda mood, may I suggest this as the perfect place to go? Enjoy!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Brrm brrm

Great excitement in the house today. Huuuuuge. We have a new car!

Well... I say 'new', although obviously I mean new-to-us, rather than brand-spanking-smell-that-newness-new but hey, it's a mere three years old this one, as opposed to ten and a half, like the decrepit banger we've just got rid of. I am soooo not going to miss that knackered old thing. Breaking down on the M5 ("we're all going on a summer holiday... oh, no, we're not, actually"), the engine cutting out repeatedly on cold days, the strange (and worrying) noise the clutch had started to make as you changed gear, feeling that any moment the beast was going to give up and conk out somewhere really impractical. I am not a keen driver at the best of times but it was really starting to bug me, the way you had to sit with the engine running for five minutes before you could go anywhere, just so it would be warm enough not to splutter and die in the middle of the road whilst turning right into the A4 (yeah, cheers for that, you stupid unreliable lump of metal).

But those days are gone. Oh yes! Now we have a silver-gold Xsara Picasso (or 'beige' as it says rather more prosaically on the sales sheet) with... wait for it... a CD player. "Can we have Best of Girls Aloud on the way to swimming?" eldest daughter shrieked as she got in from school, sprinting up to her room to retrieve it. Oh God, the arguments, there are going to be such terrible arguments from here on in, I can't even bear to think about them.
Before, in the Old Crap One, we had a tape player or the radio. Boy, am I glad to see the back of those Horrid Henry tapes, now relegated to the living room. I love a bit of HH, don't get me wrong, but we all know all the stories off by heart now. (I still laugh at the hypnotist one though, and "I'm a nudey! I'm a nudey!" has become a favourite bath-time catchphrase, thanks to Rude Ralph.) And oh yes, good riddance to the awful Sleepytime lullaby tapes we've had since the kids were all babies, and Kipper, and the Large Family... Goodbye, the lot of you. And farewell, old car. We've gone all posh and beige now, I'm afraid.

Mind you, I haven't actually driven it yet. You wait, I'll have crashed it by the end of the week, distracted by the heated Girls Aloud versus Rainbow Fairy CD arguments. Anyone know where I can get a soundproof bubble to fix onto the driver's seat?

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Books, telly and books

Exciting parcels arriving today... 20 copies of Prince Jake and the Dungeon of Doom in paperback (out next month and looking wonderfully purplicious) and two copies of Oliver Moon and the Potion Commotion in Armenian which was extremely exciting. Ooh, hurrah, it still gives me such a thrill to rip open precious parcels containing beautiful new books wot I wrote.
IN FACT, I know this might sound unbelievable, and as if I'm making it up in order to sound a more competent blogger than I actually am, I did take some photos of my office the other day in which you can see with your own eyes piles and piles of the beautiful new books along one wall. Or at least you would be able to see them with your own eyes if I could only find my bloody camera. Someone, obviously not me, has put it in a remote, neglected corner of the house (I'm afraid there are many of those) and I can't put my hands on it right now, but I will, I will! And then, if I can just manage to remember how to move pictures from my camera to this here blog, I will have some actual real-life pictures on this blog to break up my inane wittering. That would be good, wouldn't it? Don't hold your breath though...

Talking of children's books, as I was, did you see that wonderful Michael Rosen programme on BBC4 the other night? Wasn't it a heart-warmer and isn't he fab? I just loved seeing those 'I hate books' boys reading to younger boys at the end of it - what a brilliant idea. And that woman in the library - I thought she was going to cry at the hordes of children who were now streaming in to borrow books. Fabulous. (On a less cerebral note, did anyone watch America's Next Top Model last night? OMG. First series I've ever watched this programme and I am LOVING it! The bitching! The posing! Benjy Ninja or whatever his name! Sheena and her are-they/aren't-they boobs! Goddess Tyra and her words of wisdom! The screaming! And Isis... oh, it's ace. Favourite new Guilty Pleasure.)

Back to books before I skidded off to Trashville... I have had a new cover image for Hens Reunited emailed to me today and it's great. Really like it. I think there's some tweaking to be done with the title lettering but other than that, I have a cover!

Now...what did I do that with that bloody camera??

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Some hurrahs at last

Right! Onwards and upwards etc. All (just about) well here, the injured one improving daily and definitely on the mend. Hurrah!
We've had our heaviest snowfall overnight so the world looks beautiful. Hurrah!
I'm having a Get-Fit Feb in an attempt to blast away the lingering Christmas love-handles and am really into my Wii Personal Trainer. Hurrah!
And I've stopped panicking about how I'm going to get all my work done by making myself an extremely strict schedule which allows no time for daydreaming and looking out the window. Hurr- Oh.

I've just read Engleby by Sebastian Faulks - anyone else? What did you think? My thoughts went like this: Hmmm, not very keen on this protagonist, bit of a creep, and how come he's got so much money and a car if he's meant to be a working-class student? As if. Don't believe it.... Ahh, okay, so we're meant to think he's a creep, mmm, and a pretty unreliable narrator.. Ooh, liking it now, that makes it much more interesting. So are we meant to assume that...? Yes. I think we are. I think he did. That is really horrible. He is scary! Please let nothing bad happen to Charlotte.... Oh, right. All confirmed. That's a bit early, isn't it? How is this going to end? Hang on, I'm not interested in this bit. This all reads like filler. Please let there be a big twist at the end, rather than it petering out. Please let there be a great big twist that I didn't see coming... oh. The end.

So, good in parts but petered out to nothing, in conclusion. I wish the last 50 pages or so had been cut out, frankly. (Sorry, Sebastian, if you read this, I know nothing, obviously.)

I've just gone through the copy-edit of Hens Reunited - exciting! - and have hopefully combed out all the repetitions and mistakes... I could fiddle around tweaking it for ever, but must rein myself in and stop. No cover yet but I like the sound of what they're planning... I'll post it here as soon as it's been agreed on.

Right, nearly 9 o'clock so must crack on with the new novel. Must try to get to 45,000 words by the end of Feb... do you think I can make it? Place your bets.