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

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Cake - the natural enemy of writers; a discovery made by me. And also, for some reason, codpieces.

A strange thing has happened to me, during the course of my usual mid-WIP procrastinating phase.  Well, maybe it's not that strange, maybe it happens to everyone, but I thought it was strange and this is my blog, so thhrrrwwwwrrrrp to you and I shall talk about it anyway.

When I'm tiddling about, needing to take a short break from writing...all right, maybe not that short, more of a middling break, and not being the kind of person who can lie back on the chaise longue eating grapes and walnut whips and berating the butler, I usually read a book.  I mean, all those words I write (and it's been about seventeen thousand this week, but I've been on holiday from the day job, which explains it) need to come from somewhere, so, after I have poured a number down on paper, I need to refill.

I've read two and a half books this week, whilst refilling.  The half was one that I'd already started, not one that had been torn in two by a muscular man with a point to prove, by the way.  I don't do muscular men.  Well, yes, some muscles, obviously, otherwise they wouldn't be men, they'd be jellyfish with beards, but not those ridiculous 'bulging thew' types.  What is a thew, anyway?  It's not the same as a codpiece, is it?

Never knew what all the fuss was about.  I've got an ENORMOUS cod piece in the freezer.
Where was I?  Ah, yes.  When I'd finished reading, I still felt as though I had a little bit of procrastination to be getting on with, so I decided to make a cake, and, in the process, discovered that being creative in the cake-making direction completely took away my desire to be creative with words...

Further experimentation proved that knitting works the same way, as would sewing, possibly, but I shall never find out because I only sew under extreme duress, ie the buttons have fallen off my favourite trouser or something.  But I was astonished to discover this!  The desire to write can be completely dispersed by the application of wool, or buttercream and some little icing star-things, or even just a very good recipe book!

Of course, like a good little scientist I had to test my theory.  I now have a cupboard full of cake and absolutely NO desire to finish my WIP....  which is a bit of a problem because my publisher awaits the completion of the WIP, and absolutely NO-ONE wants four hundred stale lemon buns and a wonky fruit cake.  Perhaps when I've eaten them all I shall have my writing mojo back?  Or just a bottom so large that I physically cannot leave the house.

I shall present my findings in an appropriately scholarly manner in due course.  But first I have to test my codpiece theory...

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Bumper Stickers and Richard Armitage. Yep, going for Most Incongruous Pairing of the Week again...

I don't think I have ever been in possession of a bumper sticker.  You know those things that...well, I suppose the name speaks for itself really, doesn't it?  I've never had one.  In fact, in a lot of cases, I've been lucky that my car actually had a bumper, and anything stuck to it was more likely in an attempt to keep the bumper as part of the car, rather than any kind of statement about my life choices - seriously, I've driven cars where duct tape was the only thing stopping bits from flying off at the giddy speed of 30mph.  That's off the cars, obviously, not off me... and you have not lived if you have not experienced the horror of being overtaken by your own wing-mirror when attempting to turn a corner.  Duct tape and string have formed the framework for most of my life and, I suspect, when I finally shuffle off this mortal coil, I will be found to be largely constructed of those things, which means that post mortem I am going to come in extremely useful  for mending fences and holding things to other things.  "Ah.." will exclaim my next-of-kin, "she may not have had much to leave, but what she did leave has been wonderful for keeping the sheep off the dahlias."

Anyway.  Bumper stickers. I was informed by TMMQ (whose mysteriosity only increases during statements such as these) that he once owned a bumper sticker informing those sufficiently interested that 'Rally Drivers Do It Sideways'.  I think that this sentiment was occasioned by his having been one of those people that drives rally cars rather than any kind of general observation, but it made me think.  If writers could have bumper stickers - what would they say?  Being naturally inventive, and also truthfully inclined, I don't think I could ever drive along knowing that my rear end proclaimed to the world that 'My Other Car's a Porsche', even if it did mean that I could prove that I knew the correct use of the possessive apostrophe.  'I Don't Have Another Car' would be more truthful, but not really, you must admit, terribly snappy. I'm quite a fan of having 'My Other Boyfriend's Richard Armitage', to complete the multiple whammy of angering just about everyone in the country (it would even manage to annoy me, since I am one of the 0.0003% of the female population who hasn't fallen for the charms of Mr A).  None of these, however, really capture the whole Writerly Experience though.
I know, I know, gratuitous image in attempt to increase blog traffic....

How about 'Writers Would Rather Clean The Bath Than Do It?'

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Vampire Weekend; dodgy knitwear and me.

I seem to be attending a music gig.  No, not right now, I'm not going to sit here typing a blog post while someone plays bass guitar in my ear and a rather lovely young man gyrates with no shirt on, am I?  I'd be too busy sitting on my hands and drooling, for a start.  No, this music gig is a future event, which I expect you all to note in your diaries, and then ask me about at intervals.

It all began with my youngest daughter.  She's sixteen, by the way, not a precocious infant or anything.  She has an...affection, shall we say, for the American band, Vampire Weekend.  In case you haven't heard of them (and I can almost guarantee you will know some of their songs, the ridiculously catchy 'Cousins' for a start), here they are.

Nice bunch of lads.  Rather too fond of cardigans in my opinion, but you can't have everything.  This picture, by the way, is courtesy of Vanity Fair magazine, so you can tell that these aren't your average bunch of grunge-funsters, scratching a living, other people's cars and their initials on furniture.

Anyway.  When my daughter (who's called Riyadh but is hereafter known as Paj, because that is what she's known as at college, where she studies Musical Theatre, or, as her brother rather unkindly dubs it 'Singing and Bouncing') learned that the third album from these knitwear-loving lads was being released at the beginning of May, she was beyond excited, and many...many...many tracks from their already extant two albums were played in the house.  Yes.  Many. She follows them on Twitter. I think I may have seen every single Tweet about the new album (it's called Modern Vampires of the City, just for your information).  And then, she found out that they were playing One Single Gig in London...

Reader, I bought tickets.  I can only assume that my resistance was worn down by exposure to dodgy jumpers and 'Holiday' played on a loop.  In May there I shall be, in London, trying not to look like some kind of stalker, while Paj jumps up and down in tiny clothes and sings along to all the songs.  I do hope I'm not expected to blend in, because I don't have that many pullovers in my wardrobe, although I can do the 'shirt over T shirt' look like nobody's business. 

Plus, you know, I do write about vampires, so it's work, sort of.  Although, should they turn out not to be real vampires, I am going to be very cross and I may write a sternly worded letter of complaint, so there had better be throats torn out at least once during the course of the evening, ruined sweaters or not.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Wits' Ends, pondering without newts and a merciless plug for the Choc Lit Blog.

I was at my wits' end earlier this week, it's not a long journey, and the view is nice so I took a picnic.  The trip was occasioned by my needing somebody to Guest for me at the Choc Lit blog, it being my turn to blog on Friday, and after I had rotated with anxiety about the likelihood of my coming up with anybody capable of stringing together a couple of sentences not filled with expletives, I took the aforementioned adventure out to the end of my wits.  Once there, I hastily ran through my somewhat limited list of people who might be able to rope a few words, drag them together and throw in a couple of adverbs, some conjunctions and maybe, if I was lucky, a pronoun or two.

All my Choc Lit friends were clearly out of the running - not, I hasten to add, because of any lack of willingness in the wordage department, but more because they were all on day trips to the viewpoint of their own choosing, wits optional.  Besides, we take it in turns to post on the Choc Lit blog, and I didn't think "I can't think of anything to say or anyone to ask" was a sufficiently good reason for excusing myself, so there I sat, overlooking the slumped landscape of Nervous Collapse, eating banana sandwiches and pondering.

I like a good ponder now and again.  I think it's the newts that put people off generally, but I'm quite fond of them, and sometimes there's frogspawn.

Of course, there is the possibility that I may have misunderstood, but, never mind.  I enjoy myself, and that's what counts.

Where - I thought to myself, there being no-body located conveniently close by for me to think at - am I going to come up with a willing compliant subject?  Someone sufficiently capable of writing words which might be read without protective clothing and yet also capable of being interesting for no pay...

Dear Reader - yes, that's you... no, not you, you, the big one, at the back... I came up with the perfect solution.  And the post was duly (and timely) posted, was, you're thinking of Araldite... witty and well-informed.  I returned from Wits' End on the bus, having eaten all the sandwiches and the Emergency Kit Kat that I had packed 'just in case', and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

And now that curiosity has the better of you, may I suggest that you pop yourselves over to the blog to find out exactly who I found to snatch me from the jaws of despair?  It's all right, you don't need to take a packed lunch, it's not far.  In fact, it's just here.