Thursday, 25 December 2008

Christmas (Dog's) Dinner

Now those who know me, know only too well that cooking is not my forte. It just isn't. There isn't any particular explanation for it, other than however many programmes on the subject I watch, I never seem to get any better at it. But Christmas dinner presents a whole new disaster all its own.

Rome was not burnt in a day.... and it taketh time to burn ye joint!

Of course, Dan is one of the other little unexpected hazards of Christmas day. He gets up to all his usual tricks, and then a few you haven't previously thought of. He nearly had the turkey. Twice. There is nothing he will not nick. Yes, the Brussel sprouts are just as at risk as the turkey, though being a meat eater, obviously the turkey and assorted trimmings are his primary objective. Whatever I do, a long(ish) white muzzle with some cute ginger speckles and a damp black boot button on top is by my side. Permanently raised, the black boot button has developed this most expressive quiver. He's got it down to a fine art, the boot button quivers, the whiskers twitch, the ears go back, and he makes food face at me. And he can keep this up for hours.

Now where does it say in any receipe that you need to watch out for the dog being cute....?

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas TV ....."The Bill" and other ramblings...

Okay. I admit it... The way me and my parent survive each other, especially over Christmas, is the television. Unfortunately, my sky box went walkabout about the same time as my former husband did... nil desperandum... we have four and a half channels to play with! I say half, because channel five is more of a radio station gained... we still have problems with picture.

Which leads me neatly (as ever) to the subject of entertainment. It is curious what tv producers, tv companies and tv channels view as Christmas entertainment. I'm seriously wondering which member of the brains trust came up with a storyline in which the bridegroom is run down by a vengeful van driver, and dies in the arms of his bride. Yikes.... luvverly... (so glad I don't watch that stuff).

Being stuck with four and a half channels, you learn to really appreciate the absolutely fantastic stuff when it comes along. The Bill Christmas Special for instance. The Bill has been around for twenty five years, which is some kind of pedigree and the Christmas episodes were promised to be something special.

They delivered. In a big way. Now I've been watching this show since the very first pilot Woodentop, and a few times over the years I've been left wondering if The Bill had finally jumped the shark. The answer on the last four episodes showing is an emphatic NO! Even the write ups in the tv listings agreed... this was fantastic stuff... although, the crack about Stuart looking like a startled chipmunk is an image that I haven't been able to shake for a week - Thanks, Radio Times!!

Santa's Little Helper and the three parter, Too Hot to Handle had the lot, drugs, guns, mayhem, motorbikes, a sexy bad boy in leathers... and Stuart and Stevie! Now DS Stuart Turner (Doug Rao) has gained somewhat of a reputation for being a bit of a metrosexual glory boy who thinks he's Mr Supercool and is about as deep as clingfilm, whereas DC Stevie Moss (Lucy Speed) has become the girl that everyone wants as their best friend, sparky, funny, scatty, apparently an open book, and I won't go too deeply into what the fanship thinks.....

So in theory, you know how they're going to react.... right? From the moment that Stevie goes back undercover to resume her relationship with bad boy Rob Towler, the whole operation starts to go into meltdown, and there's that nice helpful Geordie cop who travels all the way down from Manchester just to help them with their little crisis, only from the minute he arrives, things get worse.... not better!

Stuart, far from trying to cover his own backside in spectacular fashion, goes on a one man mission to save Stevie from he's not sure what, he's gonna save the girl if it toasts his own career doing it, because she saved him once and he owes her! Stevie's torn two ways at once, she's a copper, but she has deep feelings for the bad boy... especially when she finds out that he went to prison for something that he didn't do. The romantics amongst us loved every second of all that.

The two concluding parts are told from two separate points of view, Stuart's aspect and then Stevie's, and we get to see how each step of the puzzle fits together. With outstanding performances from Doug and Lucy, and the guest stars Bill Ward and Michael Hodgson, and fantastic support from DCI Jack Meadows (Simon Rouse), DI Neil Manson (Andrew Lancel), DC Jo Masters (Sally Rogers) who have all achieved legendary status amongst the fans, and not forgetting DC Grace Dasari (Amita Dhiri) and TDC Will Fletcher (Gary Lucy).... these four episodes delivered on everything, tension, story, acting, the lot...proving that The Bill has got its mojo back...and even if flashback is a slightly cheesy device, if that's the quality you can deliver, we want more of it. Trust me, a small deluge of fanfic and increased interest in TB can only result!

Anyway... no more TB until New Year's Eve....*sniffs*... leaving me just the joys of Midsomer Murders (Causten must be the safest market town in the UK... no one dies if they live in Causten) and Dr Who, plus my sizeable collection of DVDs to get through until then.

So the theory is, that I will roll up my sleeves and dig into all the writing and editing that I've been carefully and cheerfully avoiding doing. My time on Authonomy is going to be limited going forward. I will do as I have said, update my chapters of Cats, Custard and Consequences, possibly take down Half Light, certainly work on it. Work on my short story, work on Domina (heaven alone knows where that one is going to go!?) and generally do a bit of grooming and de-frag this old battleship of a laptop because it gets slower every day.

Authonomy has been an amazing, and for the most part, fun ride, where I have met some truly amazing, talented, and thoroughly wonderful people. It has enriched my life and friendship circle, but not done (I suspect) a whole lot for my dream of getting published. I've learnt a lot though. Not the least that trolls do exist... you will meet quite a lot of them in Authonomy, while some of them may actually just be yanking your chain, some of them have missed the essential truism, that in there they are just like all the rest of us, wannabes stalking that coveted top five slot for the Editors' Desk. Anyway, Richard, Simon, Simon, MM, Abu, Ali, Kate, Gina, Gillian, Oli, Alexander, Cutley, Jobo, Sian, Sharon, PJ, Dave, Ed, April, Heikki, Annia, Jak, Lexi, AJ, Hannah, Corinna, Philip, Merlin, William, Alice, Bigfoot, Kylyra, Bob, Diane, Lauri, KR, Kimberley, Windy, Gar, Robb, Katrina, Liam, Patty, MacDibble, Colt, Jase, Amethyst, Miranda, Sandrine, Ginger and Shark Bait (in no particular order).. I salute you all .... for making my time on Auth worthwhile, and laughing at my ms and not just at my punctuation.... and for giving me fantastic books to read, be wowed by and generally fall in love with.

And I shouldn't forget my friends in all this, especially the ones who have stuck by my torrent of writing and given me the necessary push to stick my head above the parapet and do something about the dream instead of just moaning about it. So cheers and lurrvvvve to Pam, Danielle, Sofia, Laura M, Lucy, Alan, and special hugs to my mate Tash, who is as talented as she is loveable... all of you are amazing and I love all of you to bits.... spesh my little muse.... and my twin goddesses of wickedness... and Christopher, Pauli, Sheila and Timmi! Then there are the wonderful published ladies, Lorelei, Philippa, Julie, Nell, Catherine and Rosie...

So Merry Christmas to you all... I love all of you guys.... and now I'm gushing mostly because I started writing this at midnight and it's now two a.m.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Cake, Custard and Cowpats

No, this is not a new cookbook by the superb Mr. Fearnley-Whittingstall (though I would buy it if he wrote it). Instead, it is a user's guide to these three essential ingredients of comedy.

The cake is brought to you, rather squishily since he appears to keep it in his pockets, by the erudite and cultivated Mr. Anthony Saunders, who I sincerely hope has not been eaten by his dog. (Post updated to confirm that Anthony is safe and well. Just as well, really. I knew a lurcher who once took down a deer and was snacking off it for days, unbeknownst to its owner, during which time the farmer, unbeknownst to the dog, sprayed the entire field including the deer with a substance that was not intended to be kind to the outsides of deer or the insides of lurchers.)

The custard is courtesy of the charming Ms. S. J. Heckscher-Mockingbird (no relation, to my knowledge, of the aforementioned Mr. Fearnley-Whittingstall, despite the understandable confusion between their names). Its protagonist is, I fear, just the sort of dignity-free zone who would keep cake in his pockets.

The cowpat is even more distinguished than those which adorn Mr. Fearnley-Whittingstall's fields, supplied to us as it is by my esteemed celestial correspondent St. Eustace.

A little-known fact about St. Eustace, as recorded on his Wikipedia entry, is that he is one of the patron saints of Madrid. Keefie, Paul, Hannah and any other expats out there in Spain - I recommend you read your patron saint's offering without delay, lest he smite you with a thunderbolt (or worse still, with a cowpat). Another little-known fact recorded in the same place is that St. E. is "completely fabulous". The same could be applied to all three of these books.


This intriguing public service broadcast has been brought to you by Mr Abu El Banat... who forms part of a select coterie of esteemed persons on Authonomy.... he's a Reader... (bless you love....), and was simply too good to miss!

Besides what would Christmas be without a cowpat or two....

Monday, 15 December 2008

The Art of Ninja Plugging....

or please read my book again....Cats, Custard and Consequences, contrary to some people's belief, this isn't a recipe, it's a romantic comedy. Half Light on the other hand is a romantic crime thriller....freshly updated, I put up Chapter Six only yesterday. It's still a rough cut, but we're getting there.

While I'm at it, I very much would like to recommend Annia's Fish Tail Mountain, Heikki's Tulagi Hotel and Shah's Haggis, An unusual name for a cat, all three are wonderful and well worth your attention.

If you have children and would like something for the holidays, Little Mr Poonlop's Seventh Holiday might just tickle your fancy... Dai has even created a website where you can download it, print it off, fill it with your own illustrations.... Now there's service for you.

Of Honest Fame... now if you're an Alexander Kent girl like me (or even a Bernard Cornwell girl)..... Of Honest Fame ticks all those tight breeches' fantasy boxes.... I've always had a big jones for historical adventure and this one is it, or try The Fifth Kingdom for another strong historical literary fiction that breaks boundaries....

Ali's beautiful and romantic, The Girl On The Swing is equally unmissable. If you've got children, or know someone who has, the newest self help manual, with a dose of reality and humour on the side, Ed's Playstations and Pooh is hard to beat. If the children are a bit older...Simon has it all sewn up with Kip Doodle and the Armchair of Lost Dreams, remember, you saw it here first...!

The "Awwww Cutie" Factor

Like the X Factor.... only so much better! For a start, the X Factor allegedly relies on talent, and the votes of the Great British Public.

When it comes to books, I rely on making people laugh and the winsome cuddliness of my Danny Dog!

For instance, my avatar in Authonomy is a perfectly lit, atmospheric shot of me and my Danny Dog, I am partially in shadow, while filtered sunlight bathes his adorable furry person, and unfeasibly large ears in a soft hued golden glow of AWWWWWW CUTIE-ness. His bright furred innocence and general loveableness shines brightly out from the centre of the picture, thus generally enhancing my own, more questionable, cute credentials.

Of course, appearances are deceiving. Danny is now four (he was about ten months in that shot), the trail of stuff that he has chewed and destroyed, the curtain rails that he has broken (he swings from the curtains), the couch and chairs that he has laid on.... amount to a trail of damage costing hundreds.

But everyone loves Danny. As an ambassador for dog-hood, he can't be beaten, everyone's his friend, he always wants to play, and he has mastered a range of appealing expressions that make you believe in every little nuance of it. That he is a shameless ham who is fond of pinching your dinner off the plate, will quite happily rifle through your pockets in search of some abandoned something (usually sweets, he's very partial to Softmints in particular!) and thinks absolutely nothing of making cheese face to enduce you to giving up that final treasured bit of brie that you have been hoarding to put on your crackers, makes no never mind.

He's a cocky little devil too (to the extent that I almost considered re-christening him, Stuart). And not adverse to the odd gallivant. A while back, when I was having a new disk cut for his collar, it occurred to me that it might just be useful to put my mobile number on it, just in case. Officially, he is my mother's dog.... but since he is strong enough to fly her like a kite from the end of his lead..... well..... Anyway, the point being, that if she was out wandering around looking for his disobedient little hide, there wouldn't be anyone there to answer the phone. So one morning, I get a ring.... "We've got your dog." Oh. Would you mind taking him back, awfully, because you see I live in East London, and he lives in Leatherhead..... my mother will be most glad to see him.

At least Dan's gallivanting is in the pure spirit of adventure and friend seeking. Years ago, when I was a very small (ahem!) child, my parents bought me a Sealyham terrier as a pet. Which is a little like giving your child a sabre tooth tiger as a pet... but....

Rudi (after the Prince who shot himself and his mistress at Mayerling...don't ask.... you really don't want to know) was a wencher. And a dustbinner. But mostly a wencher. He could get through a knothole in the fence. And it was my job to go and get him back, as we both grew older. By the time I reached sixteen and he was thirteen the joke was starting to wear a little thin. Because he only ever got out at night. I used to pull on my wellies, and my old duffle coat over my nightgown and go hunting for the little devil by torchlight. At two in the morning.

One early morning, when I was feeling old, crabby and really p****d at the world, I found the little horror, forelegs wrapped around the least attractive and least virtuous bitch I have ever seen. He saw me, let go, she scurried away, and he came galloping down the road. Both his ears were flapped inside out, his tongue was hanging all the way out the side of his mouth, his eyes were rolling wildly.... "GET IN THE HOUSE YOU DIRTY LITTLE ****" I screamed at him as he shot past me. Did my disapproval have any effect.... heck as like..... he continued pushing off after the ladies and the contents of next door's dustbin until about the week before he died, aged 20, from presumably a surfeit of roast dinner carcasses and nookie!

So, for all Danny's trail of destruction, his behaviour is easier to deal with, and there won't be anymore embarrassing scenes involving angry dog owners either!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Talent...... and the spotting of it......

This question arose when a friend changed his status from single to blank. Whereupon half the world swooped to either burst into tears or make remarks on the subject, I replied to one of those remarks, and the question of talent came up.... don't ask how... because I'm honestly not sure myself.

Anyway. My qualifications for spotting theatrical talent. First of all, I am the daughter of an actress, so I have been hip deep in board treaders since I was in nappies (apologies for that rather nasty mental image!). Secondly, I have been able to tell a good from a bad theatrical performance since I was old enough to know that a stage wasn't only something that the sheriff rode into town on. When you have seen as much ham and cheese as I have, you are completely riveted by good performances even if they be in the humblest of productions. And... I've lived my entire life surrounded by it, I can tell real life from performance.... I really do know a thing or six about performance art!!

All of which leads me neatly to the question of my own talent spotter status on Authonomy. Your talent spotter status soars or falls by the bookshelves you make, how long each book reposes there on your shelf and a host of other factors including how many people agree with your choice of books. It's about literature, which is a static, yet still performing, art.

My choice of books relies on a very simple formula. Would I buy said book in print? If the answer is yes, on my shelf it goes. So if I say read and back Kip Doodle and the Armchair of Lost Dreams for instance, that is because I would go out and buy it. Similarly, Tettig's Jewels is a book which appeals to both the romantic and the ghoul in me.... at once..... both are on my bookshelf, along with Annia's Fish Tail Mountain and Heikki's Tulagi Hotel and Shahan's riotously funny and very poignant The Great Armenian Novel, those of us with a semitic background recognise the mother instantly.....

That said, I base my opinion on what I like to read. The one thing that has really irritated me of late, is that people seem to treat this as a literary circle. Authonomy is a site provided by a business, and that business is dedicated to publishing books and making money. Literary love ins are not required. However, if you do go in for all that nitpicking and fault finding, please take the trouble to actually read the book first.

So I am going to take the opportunity to recommend, because it was one of the first books that I found on Authonomy, and I have returned many times (as is my reading habit) and it is still wonderful and stirring..... Ali's The Girl On The Swing... pop in, have a read..... enjoy!!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Spreading the Literary Scratchings

A little like fertiliser; it occurred to me that if I want to engage a wider audience, I really need to spread my stuff about a bit more, thereby allowing it to grow. Grow what? Well, I'm not exactly all that sure to be honest, but it seemed like a plan at the time. At 2am, and I've been watching Dog Soldiers, and occasionally peering under the bed. Just in case. Not that I'm paranoid. Not really.

So in a grandiose and somewhat misguided plan to attempt to appear as though I do know what I am doing, I have managed somehow to link this blog in with my Facebook page, so that the sixty-six lovely and unfortunate people who have risked their nerves and sanity on befriending me will have to look no further to know what I'm up to. It helps, especially if you are paranoid. If you know where I am and what I am up to, you then needn't panic, I am not going to come sneaking up behind you and pounce. Not that I do, pounce that is, or sneak. I'm not built for sneaking.

I also decided to expose myself....(please don't all panic at once).... to the ridicule and derision of others by admitting openly that I occasionally write fanfic. Nay, not just admit to it, using the notes system on Facebook to actually run some of it, the bits I am quite proud of, up the flagpole and wave it about a bit. Quite a lot of it (okay, most of it) is The Bill fanfic, and quite a lot of it (actually, all the stuff that I am likely to post up here) features DC Jo Masters and DS Stuart Turner..... because they are my favourite characters.... they go great together, very much like ham and eggs, or peach and cobbler (played to perfection by the utterly incomparable and irreplaceable, Sally Rogers and Doug Rao), and it does somewhat burn me that poor old Stuey continues to get a bad press for daring to have a relationship with the lovely Samantha, whom all the world (apparently) wanted to go off with the serial womanizer, Phil. The fact that she would have been a lot safer with Stuey makes no never mind in their heads, so poor Stuey continues to get it in the neck.

For those of you who know about and have read some of the TB shower scene stuff, that is extremely unlikely to make it into the notes, so those of you who were hoping for fireworks, sorry I am not that brave. That unlikely pairing will remain under wraps for time being, even if the slash does write itself.

I posted up one offering this morning, L-O-V-E, soppy stuff suggested by the lyrics of the song, and prior to that, Heroin(e) and Mr Jordan, which nods at a very old classic Here Comes Mr Jordan, and speculates on what might have happened in the middle of Blood Rush... (two parter in TB). Dive in, have a read.... and let me know what you think. Neither require a particular knowledge of either the episodes or even the show itself. So enjoy!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Zen and the Kitchen Cupboard

Today I took a chance and entered a place that only the brave dare risk.... the kitchen cupboards. For those of you who do not believe in Black Magic and the dark arts, trust me, it exists; I found a box of it stashed away at the back, all covered in dust and with a sell by date of some time in 1998, I was quite surprised that it hadn't walked out on its own. My mother's kitchen is living proof that the space/time continuum is real.

Aside from the nuts that time forgot..... they've been reposing in the corner of the top shelf since at least 1991, and everyone is too scared to tackle them without a back up plan and an armed response unit; we have the sardines that no one is likely to eat, mainly because they're the ones in tomato sauce which nobody likes, the sixteen partially consumed rice packets of every shape, colour and variety, three forgotten packets of biscuits, twelve tins of miscellaneous food stuffs.... and about three hundred different condiments and sauce bottles, some without labels..... kamikaze sauce tasting..... any takers??

However, these are not the only culinary horrors that lurk in my mother's repertoire.... there is the dreaded dusty cupboard with Dad's collection of liquers..... I should perhaps point out that my father passed on over thirty years ago, and prior to that he had very little to do with the liquer cabinet, so you do have to bear in mind that some of them have been there since approximately 1960.... Mercifully, time is a great healer, my mother has, mostly, now forgotten about them. So male guests can heave a huge sigh of relief that they won't be required to tackle a particularly soupy Tia Maria, or a rather pungent cherry brandy, or worst of the lot, the Drambuie, which I promise you is older than I am!

I have been serruptitiously throwing these things out.... It would be a lot quicker and easier if I just hired a skip.... or even a succession of them.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Unreasonably Excited

by my curious success in the art of the ninja mockingbird plug.... thought I would stick up some more of my work in my notes on Facebook and see what folk think.... so be prepared for a minor flood of short stories and fanfic stuff over the next few weeks. As I've said before, Fanfic is one of the places I do my thinking, and bench testing of occasional ideas.

Garalt has given me a new target for some of my writing (thanks mate...) which is all well and good, because quite aside from being the Queen of Starting and Never Quite Finishing, I am also the Queen of Procrastination.... so Easter 2009 gives me a good head start for actually finishing stuff.

I have sort of decided that Cats, Custard and Consequences, The Siren's Guide to Sushi and the barely started Split Screen will probably be my focus for Easter 2009. Mainly because Cats and Siren are the furthest advanced (other than Half Light) and Split Screen has a slightly different purpose. Split Screen I need to write fully, because I intend developing it in two directions, firstly as a novel, and secondly as a television film script..... Ambitious? Well why not? Dream big.... it's always best to dream big!

And finally, I would like to thank the Quintet of Ladies who have been very encouraging and extremely helpful in my attempts to get published! Pam, Danielle, Sofia, Tashya and Laura, you've all been total stars!! Fanks!!!

Friday, 5 December 2008

The Ninja Mockingbird

Or the Sneaky Art of Shameless Plugging. I am quite shameless in this endeavour, two months reposing reasonably (for me) quietly on Authonomy has shown me that the art of being a shameless tart is not one to be frowned upon. In fact, it's one to be revered.... even envied. The Three Wise Men of Authonomy (there, that's my concession to Christmas taken care of!), Simon, Alexander and Richard reached new heights of shameless abandonment, they varied from the crafty to the blatant and every shade in between. Simon's style was the neat hook, Alexander's the pithy repost, and Richard's was to be as crystal clear as possible. The sheer volume and ingenuity of Simon's plugs are an art work in themselves..... In fact when this is all over, I think he should bring out a book of his shameless plugs...... advertising could learn a lot from his approach.

Of course, my books would be all at sea without the killer cover...... And I can claim absolutely no responsibility for either of them, Cats, Custard and Consequences was beautifully designed by a young lady entitling herself Will Fletcher Fan..... (bless you hunny), Half Light comes courtesy of Doug Rao (mate, you are a true gent!) who has a great eye for a good pic...

Strangely enough, Pix lead me neatly to another of my heroes, Garalt Canton, and his incredible book, The Fifth Kingdom, Gar is also a more than usually talented artist... (the sin of envy... moi??).

If word pictures grab your fancy, and you need a good giggle, may I also recommend Edmund Farrow. Ed has brought whole new meanings to the word Housedad and quite restored my faith in the whole idea along the way.

I could not possibly forget Shah's Haggis, an unusual name for a cat and Gina's Escaping Reality along the way, especially as the sneaky art of plugging has now escaped the bounds and is infesting the whole universe.

Of course for lovers of flying kites, and idling your life away by the pool, I could not possibly miss out on Annia or Heikki whose support and encouragement have been wonderful and whose books are pretty darned wonderful too!!

That's it for this public service broadcast..... Enjoy!!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Half Light and Sex

Well, that probably grabbed your attention, didn't it? There is more than one sex scene in Half Light..... this is after all, a gay romantic crime thriller, where the boys get together in steamy passionate love on more than one occasion. In fact, there is a case that Dom uses sex to distract Si from some of the devious stuff that is going on in the background.

But...... and it's a big but...... there are three distinct sex scenes, which I hoped would be sufficiently different from one another, and sufficiently steamy, without straying into the area of pornography. Unfortunately, it appears that my idea of steamy and sexy is about the same as a maiden Victorian aunt who feels overcome at the sight of an uncovered table leg.

I'm not a prude..... far from.... as those who know me well can certainly say, but how to make the whole thing steamy and sexy without being either repetitious or revolting? That is the question.

Which is probably why I was still writing at three am...... and why I now feel tired, mildly ratty and somewhat sex obsessed, and possibly also explains why I have actually come out in public and admitted that I write impossibly over melodramatic fanfiction (usually at three in the morning as well) and actually posted some of it up on my facebook page....

I should probably apologise to "The Bill" for this incredible liberty with their characters, but it helps me think, and sometimes helps me sleep too (long story)....... so you see it is all in a good cause.

On the subject of sleeping, watching Dog Soldiers at three thirty am isn't conducive to sleep, you tend to want to check under the bed (just in case).

I do actually have a target deadline for all this stuff to actually come together into something that is recognisable as a book, possibly three. There is a Book Fair in Montolieu..... I see it as an opportunity to lay my work on the line and come up with three complete manuscripts by 10-13 April 2009. So I suspect there are a few more sleepless nights, and slightly incoherent days to come. Particularly as my dreams and schemes are big this time, one of the books, Split Screen, I intend developing into a tv/film script.....

And why not?

Little point in dreaming small!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Advertising..... or what to do with those bits in between your favourite tv programmes

I finally got over my sudden desire to write something else.... carefully quelled it and put it aside for future use (I even printed it off so I could have it in view, in the hope of appeasing the gods and having it stop mugging me at every opportunity). So I cracked on with Chapters four and five of Half Light, and they are now reposing, in uneasy asymmetry, with Chapters One to Three (inclusive), in the vague hope that someone will read them and like them enough to start some serious voting on this thing.

Of course, in the meantime, Richard, who wowed us all with Bee Bones, has unveiled Tettig's Jewels. Tettig is a masterpiece. I mean, Bee Bones was a masterpiece, but Tettig is a Master-piece. Hmmm. Raises the bar even higher. I am now starting to wonder whether leaping the bar is my object, or merely limbo-dancing under it. Of course, if I wait long enough I should be able to sneak under without even bending...... seeing as I am reasonably short.

All of this veered me round in a sort of lumpy circle to the subject of advertising. Now I don't like advertising..... some advertisements make me shout and want to throw things at the screen. I mean... honestly.... a while back there was an advertisement for a Bank. In which a man bounced up and down on a stationary carousel horse and demanded to know in a slightly falsetto voice where everyone was. What was this supposed to mean..... Our greatest customer is Pee Wee Herman....?? My current bete noire..... that stupid shopping ad in which people turn into fairies...... when did you last see a fairy in Gap..?.... don't answer that!

Okay I hate advertising. In some cases it creeps me out completely. My favourite tv show "The Bill" is currently sponsored by Jeyes/Parazone. There is something deeply disturbing about the way that man is fixated on that toilet...... he's always polishing it lovingly (very creepy), or patting it, or stroking it, or talking to the toilet block (I kid you not) as he drops it in the cistern. Yikes. And the level of inappropriateness attached to all this sanitaryware fondling in between Sun Hill's finest solving burglaries, murders, drugs deals, etc etc is surely self explanatory. I am sure I am not alone in this.

So what is appropriate advertising? How exactly does Joe Public, with limited resources, and only the ingenuity that god gave him(or her) achieve some advertising for his(or her) book? I am talking about books here, because books are something that most directly concerns me. How do I (and by extension, my friends) advertise my book (their books) to attract buyers, or agents, or publishers....... or...... (fill in the blank)?

For instance, my friend Merlin has written a book, it has been edited, honed, polished and printed, it has a website dedicated to it, but it remains largely a bit of a secret. So how do we bring Inner Space to the viewing, reading, buying public? First step has to be to tell people about it. Hence the above clever clicky linky thingy (allow me this tiny moment of html smugness!!! hehehehe).... the next step..?.. well, my devious little mind is still working on that one.

One cunning plan at a time......

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Culinary Mishaps.... and other stuff

Last night I assembled the ingredients of dinner, you know chicken, spices, natural yoghurt, creme fraiche, rice, fire extinguisher, alka seltzer, little book of Calm..... and..... suddenly

I actually had an edible dinner...... quite startling really.... I come from a well known line of horrible cooks. My mother is atrocious, my grandmother wasn't so great either (but considerably better than my mother), it's a bit of a wonder that I survived to adulthood. My mother's great sins were over cooking and over seasoning..... I don't like a lot of salt in my food, never did, long before the Government started having a hissy fit over salt in food..... particularly as my mother and grandmother's salting habits meant that pretty much the only flavour you had was salt (bleugh!!).

So, having created this culinary masterpiece, I settled down to edit chapter four of Half Light. But it was no good. The thing that has been beckoning at me for twenty four hours or so, was leaping up and down going "me, me, me". Resistance was futile. I would look at Half Light and Si's conflicted feelings and see double.

So now Split Screen has jumped the queue, and is waiting impatiently just behind Half Light for its chance at the limelight. Feh. Tiresome or what. I had this nice, neat, orderly queue of novels all sitting there, begging quietly to be written..... and along comes Split Screen like a teenager at a swimming pool..... no running or bombing allowed.....yeah right!

And the dog's in my chair again!....

Monday, 1 December 2008

And now for something....

that looks like hard work... The pulling Half Light all together into a coherent book and actually ordering it all into proper chapters. This morning I picked up the first chunk of my ms, and went for it..... chop, chop. That felt really good.

Five pages, Chapter one, all present, not quite correct, but getting there. I'm sitting here, smelling that road again...... if you've ever driven out along the A13 towards Barking and Dagenham, and then headed for the Dagenham Car Boot Sale on a Sunday, that waste ground by the river, then you'll know what that smell is like. The weird bit, there's a cafe almost directly opposite the waste processing plant...... I dunno about you, but that smell would definitely put me off my bacon butty!

So, back to the grind. Making it darker, more mysterious, banishing the fantasy bits which weren't working at all, and getting down to the gritty heart of it, love and betrayal. I know quite a lot about those two.

And I can't forget my other stuff. Courtesy of the incomparable Mr Simon Forward (and yes, Simon, your thread on Authonomy's forum put the idea into my head, so I am blaming you for this one!) I had the wickedest idea for a book/script that I have ever had in my life. If I can pull it all together, it has winner stamped quite large upon it.

Of course, there's Cats, Custard and Consequences. I am reliably informed that cats and custard are now irretrievably linked in the minds of some of my readers...... a happenstance which seems to disturb some slightly. Never mind dear, it's only a book! I am not suggesting that you make something nourishing out of the cats and the custard.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

NaNoWriMo.... I made it!!!

Fifty thousand words, heaven alone knows how many headaches and an eleventh hour revelation as to how I could fix the bits that weren't working...... But. I made it. Now comes the real work, editing, refining, sorting into chapters, adding in bits, taking out bits, shifting stuff around.... But I am quietly confident that this is one of the best things I have ever written.

Then there is Cats, Custard and Consequences to finish..... and three more forming a nice disorderly queue behind Cats....

Finally, I've got a chance to concentrate on my writing, and actually organise a realistic attempt to get published.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Simply Irresistable....

It's one of those days. I have spent hours pounding away at my Nanowrimo entry with the vague feeling that this is all getting a bit down and dirty. I mean...... they met three years ago when the copper, Dominic, arrested Simon for being the son of a very nasty toerag...... Si's lover Charlie was done away with by Si's nasty dad..... and our boy is broken hearted and confused. Fast forward three years, Si is out of jail and making it as a Private Investigator, he's back in Dominic's world on the right side of the law this time, they meet, they connect and they make it....... absolutely everywhere. It's a force of nature..... they get their kit off at every available opportunity. I should take out shares in YKK for the sheer number of times zips have magically slid down.

There's the vague sense that all this passion is just staving off the inevitable...... the moment when all hell breaks loose. I find myself strangely reluctant to write it. Write the moment when I'm planning on breaking both their hearts, and almost killing one..... So I'm staving off the inevitable here...... My half breed demon wants his shot at love and redemption, but my gay ex gangster doesn't know the role his current lover had in his former lover's demise..... nor the fate that awaits his current lover if he doesn't deliver on his latest victim.

In between all of it is a mysterious drug of choice..... a mind bending rage enhancer made for the half light world where demons walk amongst the people.

I know what's on my last page........ I know what Si's choice is......... now all I have to do is write it...

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The Pursuit of the Indigestible...and Other Matters.

Or my further adventures in culinary incompetence and domestic discord......

Seriously, I have no idea what that was last night. It had shape..... sausage...... okay identified the shape, but the taste and texture were something hitherto unknown to man. Heckscher women, at least in my branch of the family, are legendary bad cooks. My aunt and my mother, bless them, try....... but don't quite succeed, and I am probably the worst of the lot.

It isn't for the lack of trying...... I am just very bad at two things essential to successful cookery, timing...... and seasoning. Season to taste...... I hate that particular three word combination. I then under season out of fear or over season out of forgetfulness. And that's another problem. I forget what I am doing. I write things down.... then I just need to pop back to the laptop for another couple of sentences, returning usually just before the smoke alarm starts beeping. Thank god for non stick or we would be in an expensive world of trouble.

You would think from my size and shape that I was a great cook..... trust me looks can be deceiving. I don't even particularly like food, unless it's sushi, which brings me to the most recent of my issues. Sharing a living space with my mother. I love my mother. But she drives me round the bend. It's the whole madness/wrath/one we love thing. My parent and I are best separated by at least a bus ride, probably two (for safety). We fight. We have very different feelings, and very very different politics. And very, very, very different palates.

Which brings me neatly to a point. To successfully share a living space, you have to have at least some common goals. I spend a great deal of time writing. It's what I do. And what I want to do a lot more of in the future. My mother spends a great deal of time yelling about some domestic disaster or other and expecting me to wail along with her, I don't.

We've been through the crux of the problem so many times that I am hoarse, and cross eyed with disbelief. The house is too big to manage, I have neither the time, nor the inclination, and my mother is too elderly to cope. Then we go and look at houses. Until I can no longer cope. Then the whole thing gets shelved again. Three and a half years this has been going on. We have seen every configuration of human dwelling space known to man, and some which aren't and aside from the very nice, posh and exceptionally expensive luxury flats at Kew, right on the river, which would leave her broke inside a year, we haven't actually seen anything that she likes.

It has to be chintzy (for that read McKinley stinker! for explanation of this phenomenon please see Bette Davis in June Bride....... explains it all far more succinctly and with less stress than I ever could), it has to have an upstairs (because people peer in the windows (......and then run away screaming!!)) but should still be on all one level. It must be a flat with low maintenance, but still have a private outside space for Dan to dig big holes in. It must have privacy but still be surrounded by people. And so forth and so on. I think she thinks that she is going to lull me into a state whereby I am going to give in, and we can go back to daily rows. Not a chance.

I crave modern surroundings. And a hygienic kitchen..... I may hate to cook, but I crave a modern, hygienic kitchen. And modern furnishings...... lots and lots of twenty first century furnishings. Good quality too.... not that flat pack crap that comes apart if you sneeze at it. But most of all I crave walls that do not have Sanderson William Morris wallpaper on them. In fact. If I never see wallpaper again it will be too soon.

Some years ago, my aunt (my mother's cousin) and my mother were taking a stroll around my aunt's enormous property near Hatfield when they chanced upon the bonfire already up for fireworks night. There were some rolls of wallpaper added to this fire. My aunt and my mother decided that this wallpaper was too good to waste, so they retrieved it. All of it. All one hundred and eighty seven rolls of it. And guess what. That's not 187 assorted rolls, that's 187 rolls of exactly the same paper. My aunt then gave it to my mother.

So far it is has infested the downstairs hallway, the dining room, the downstairs wc, the stairwell, the upstairs hallway and my old bedroom. It's green. Inescapably green. And it fulfills all the attributes of the McKinley stinker to perfection. And there are still at least one hundred and fifty rolls left. In some of my wilder nightmares I see the thing taking over........*shudders*...

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Literary Snobs.....

You find them everywhere. Now, I've been on Authonomy for two months now. I freely admit that my book isn't in the Literary Fiction category. I would never, on pain of a slow death, write a work of literary fiction. That is not the way my mind works. It does not, however, mean that I don't like to read such books from time to time, nor does it mean that I would not wish to express in warm terms to the author of such a book, my admiration at their talent. Unfortunately, this brings me into the range of the Literary Snob.

The Literary Snob never loses him or herself in a book, they're always on the outside looking in, they read books because their "friend" has read it and it is "simply wonderful". They don't express themselves in simple statements. Why would five words do when ten paragraphs of dense and obtuse prose, showing off their own prowess, is so much better.

So this morning, I wake up and go and check my page to see if anything has happened overnight. It has, I have a spiteful message, couched in the "friendliest" terms telling me that my lowbrow post on a Literary Fiction thread doesn't met their exacting literary standards, oh dearie me no, and would I therefore mind removing it. No problem mate. Offending post removed.

Word of warning, literary snobs, especially the ones on Authonomy. Positive and negative word of mouth are two of the most powerful marketing tools known to man. People may remember positive experiences with a warm fuzzy feeling, but they will definitely remember negative experiences in hideous clarity and they will revisit them over and over and over again, sometimes to any one who will listen.

I have a high IQ, and I am extremely well educated and well travelled. I do not however choose to express myself in long winded and snobby paragraphs when talking about a book on Authonomy. I like it, I say so...... and it doesn't take many words to say that.

Sunday, 16 November 2008


Okay. Everybody has those. Being the daughter of an actress, mine come quite naturally from the television and movies, with the occasional wander along the dark corridors that is the arcane world of the comic. And I don't mean the girly cuddly stuff.

My taste in movies tends to head for the dark side. The very dark side. I sneaked into the cinema to see Alien, even though in those days it was an 18 certificate and I wasn't. 18 that is. I have loved the Alien "franchise" ever since, even though the storyline of Alien 3 was pretty darned pathetic and not where I would have taken it. The whole AVP could have been so much hotter too. I like dark worlds where slaughter and creepiness take place. No surprise then that I'm a fan of the Resident Evil movies. I'm quite keen on things with Zombies in, Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, and the arcane, Constantine, Hellboy, the creepy, Silent Hill, John Carpenter's Vampires, the whole end of the world thing 28 Days Later, The End of Days etc

Perversely, (and to be frank lest ye think that I am a total ghoul, which I'm not) I also love romantic comedies...... Legally Blonde, Sweet Home Alabama, cute cuddly fluffy stuff...... a bit of an antidote to the ol' stress thing.

Moving on to the TV, well.......Dr Who goes without saying...... I doubt there is a person alive my age who doesn't have a touch of nostalgia for the old ways....... and Tom Baker! Then there is The Bill. I've been watching TB since Woodentop. There. That dates me. I don't care. I've seen it through all its adaptations, heck, I've even dropped off and collected my parent from working on it more times than I care to mention. The Bill has been a big influence on my writing, well actually, certain characters in TB are kind of responsible for some of the stuff that rattles around in my extremely over fertile and tangent ridden brain, and definitely not in the way that the producers intended, that's for certain. We are 99% certain that Sally is a robot from the future!! And the things that some of the guys get up to in the shower could never be shown before the watershed (see Fanfiction blog for explanation of this phenomenon!)

Books. Of course I've been influenced by books. I've been reading Agatha Christie since I was about 9. I have obsessively collected the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich, most of my books have dark sinister covers which promise a doom laden and corpse strewn interior (and they don't disappoint on that front I can tell you) and a smattering of romantic comedies when I am tired of the slaughter.

Comic books. Witchblade, Lara Croft, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen etc..... I've got a few of those too.

Okay, my deep hot dark soul is a little odd. I like the kinds of things that women are not supposed to like....... so I'm a tomboy at heart......

Saturday, 15 November 2008

The Insanity that is NaNoWriMo

And no... nanowrimo is not a new form of brain disease (although it can make you feel a bit certifiable). National Novel Writing Month. Sounds warm and friendly doesn't it. A bunch of people getting together and writing things. Fuzzy and cute even.

Forget it. Fuzzy and cute it ain't. It is all about writing 50,000 words in thirty days. To win, you have to upload to the word count checker in excess of 50,000 words. So you announce this feat to all your friends before you start. Just to keep you honest and on track. You fail..... public humiliation and the jokes of all your mates is just the start.

Now if you have a mind like mine, you tend to shoot off at an awful lot of tangents. Look up procrastination in the dictionary, I swear my photo's beside it...... or would have been if I hadn't put off turning up for the photo shoot!

So.... I hear you say.... that's 1667 words per day for thirty days. Not so tough. I could do that. You could? Well do it then...... as of today, 15 November, I am on 22,381.... or thereabouts. Just short of my midway total. But better than I expected to be doing. It's getting towards big push time. Some of my amazing buddies are way out in front of me, some of them have already crossed the finish line and are heading on and upwards into the stratosphere.

Me, I'm thrashing around with my novel, Half Light, getting tangled up in the lives of my characters, trying to inject a freshness into the whole thing while still keeping it recognisable in terms of reality...... a tale of every day folk and a half demon who wants redemption and a shot at happiness. Well a demon can dream?!

Heading off into the unknown again...... craziness guaranteed, and the satisfaction of finishing what I started...... unbeatable!!

Thursday, 13 November 2008


I can hear the purists twitching from here. But. And it's a big but. Fanfiction is a place where two things can happen. All the more improbable stuff you wish would happen, can (And yes, Sally is a Skynet Robot from the future.....), You can make it happen! And you get the chance to try out some of your plot lines and writing style with a ready made and often critical audience in place.

On one hand, you can really push the boat out...... write stuff that would never ever cross the screen, particularly if your favourite show goes out before the legendary and largely (as far as I can see) mythical watershed. You can also write unlikely love stories between extremely unlikely lovers. Which brings me neatly to the subject of Slash.

To the unitiated, Slash is a same sex pairing within the context of the story that you're telling. Your pairing can get up to all sorts of stuff. For instance, I am quite partial to shower scenes, things that have happened in the showers at a certain well known "Police Station".... well, let's just say if the actors knew what their characters got up to...... they'd never go in the Gent's Locker Room again!! Strangely, the fanfiction audience loves Slash. There's a lot of it about.

So, there you have it. Wildly improbable pairings, danger, death and destruction around every corner, hot water, soap........ what more could you possibly want to play with.... and it's all free. The only real limit is your imagination (and basic decency!). Ready made characters, some idea of back story without the effort of creating it. And it is quite hard work trying to write it true to character. That is one of the points of the whole thing. No good writing it, if everything you make the character do is so wildly out of character that your audience won't believe. Fanfiction has its uses, it's a good exercise in consistency, it's great fun and you meet the nicest people!

Greetings.... A Book's Tale

I have been writing for years. Then, foolishly, my mother suggested that I should have something to fall back on in case my intended career didn't work out. Foolishly, because in my experience having something to fall back on means that you do exactly that, and since the something was secretarial...... and opened up a whole new world of writing possibility to me...... in the form of typing..... and computers..... I can honestly say that my mother (who complains bitterly about it) is wholly and solely responsible for my techno-geekishness. Thanks Mum!

Anyway. Training to type professionally means that I can type at speed, some 70 words per minute... much faster than writing long hand. Sometimes it's quite difficult to get my fingers to shut up. They've never been at a loss for words, my fingers. Yet.... I am the champion of starting things, and not quite finishing. Which is why, after ten years, I have a couple of million written words, but as yet nothing publishable that is complete.

So we come to Zero Hour. People who know me well had reached the stage of being completely fed up with hearing me moan about writing and books and other related stuff. I joined a forum last April. Which led to me joining Facebook. Which led to a blog created by a Creative Director who decided to blog the process of attempting to get his book published. Which led me to Authonomy. A curious den of the mostly unpublished, all striving towards that great nirvana....... a published book.

The point being, that actions have consequences. And the consequence is (I say is, because my first attempt is still up there) that with a bit of a struggle, I pulled together four chapters (some 11,000 words) of my romantic comedy novel, and punted them onto Authonomy. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, crossed as many digits as it is possible to do and waited. Nothing lethal happened. The storms of vitriol and scorn were not unleashed. People actually liked it. I was stunned. Still am really.