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Sunday, 30 March 2014

Forthcoming competition to win Vampire State of Mind, Falling Apart and Modern Vampires of the City. I spoil you, I really do... and a shout out to Duncome Park's Birds of Prey Centre!

Just a couple of points today...

Now I've finished pointing, I suppose I'd better tell you what I'm pointing at since you can't see me.  Except for you, hiding out there in the bushes, and you'd better be careful because we did some gardening yesterday and dug a big hole just there to...oh. I see you found it.

Firstly.  It may have escaped your attention (if you are living up a particularly high mountain with no electricity and your fingers in your ears, going 'lalalalala') that my sequel to Vampire State of Mind is called Falling Apart and will be released upon the reading public as a Kindle book in May and in all its paperbackular glory in June.

Pre order it here.  Just a hint, you understand, I won't send the boys round if you don't.  Probably.

Now, I have it in mind to run a little competition, just prior to the release - around about the middle of May I shall be giving away on this very blog, a Special Prize.  How special? I hear you ask, because I know that some of you have some very 'special' requirements because I've seen you in the fish warehouse when you thought no-one was looking and there was an offer on dabs...  Well. I shall be giving away - giving away mind you, and you know how it hurts me to give anything away, apart from the twist ending to certain films... a package.  And that package will comprise:

a) A shiny, signed copy of Vampire State of Mind
b) An even more shiny, also signed, and probably not bearing coffee-ring marks and dogeared pages, copy of Falling Apart (which will not even be in the shops yet!)
c) A copy of Vampire Weekend's latest and Grammy-winning album, 'Modern Vampires of the City'.  It's a brilliant album, by the way. Very singy, and popularly regarded as THE album of 2013.

I shall be hosting that competition on this very blog, and you will be required to 'do something' (as yet unspecified) in order to win.  But probably not dance. Yes, probably not that.

And my second point...yesterday I popped in to the Birds of Prey centre at Duncome Park to do some more research for the upcoming book, which features a Lanner Falcon called Bane.

I mention this merely to advise anyone in the area to visit.  It's fabulous.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

I fail to become obsessed with rocks, even shiny ones, and have an encounter with the Noah's Ark of Death...

If you missed me - I'm back.  If you didn't miss me, you must have just done a really long blink.

For this weekend I had to travel to Oxford to collect DD1 from her University thingie and bring her home for Easter.  Huge apologies to those friends I promised to meet up with next time I was down, but this was a flying visit, with a pause only long enough to visit a couple of museums and eat cake, for now I am back in the place I belong - my bed.  But this sojourn (do I mean sojourn?  Or are those trouser-things?  Those things that go..sort of..over the legs, but aren't part of the trouser?  Or are those bicycle clips?  Never mind now...) enabled me to take photographs, some of which may become part of this book, or the next!  Also to visit the Pitt Rivers museum again, where I discovered that they are seriously....seriously fond of rocks.  There were all sorts of interesting fossils and dinosaur things and stuffed animals, but every other case, just as you got really into the dinosaur timeline or bird family trees...along would come a bloody big label saying 'Ah Yes, but have you considered Rocks?' and then millions and millions Either rocks are far more important than I have previously considered, or the museum curator has a dangerous obsession.

This is me. I am staring at some rocks.  The novelty wore off very quickly.

Sigh.  These were fluorescent. But still. Rocks.

DD1 with what she refers to as 'Noah's Ark of Death'.  You see all those cases off to the left?  Guess what's in them.  Go on, guess....

Cake not pictured.

So now, I suppose, I'd better go and write something. But not about rocks. Not even the seaside kind.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Why any writing advice I may give is similar to my attraction to Tony Robinson. Yes, honestly.

I've been at it again.  No, not that... although, yes, I did spend yesterday evening watching Tony Robinson talking to me from the Bronze Age (I think that was what was going on, I was too transfixed by his little face and the way his eyebrows kept going up and down, to listen to the words). No, what I've been doing this time is giving advice about writing.  I did it here (you need to go right down to the bottom to find me, as so often in life).  People often ask me for advice...I have no idea why.  I mean, would you ask advice from a woman who spends longer than average with her pants on her head, muttering?  But, possibly because I've got books published, normal people are willing to listen to what I have to say, even if what I have to say is mostly 'did I leave the oven on? What's that funny smell?' and 'who are you, and why are you in my house?'

I wish there was such a thing as definitive advice.  It would be lovely to be able to say 'if you do this.. and then this... you too can be a published writer' (only, obviously, substituting real advice for the word 'this', because doing 'this' won't get you anything, except probably arrested, just be glad you can't see what I'm doing when I say 'this').  Besides, it's too easy to sound that the word I mean? It sounds right. Or do I mean pragmatic?  Why does everything with a 'tic' in it sound as though it is something to do with instruction?  Apart from Tic Tacs, of course, which are nothing to do with learning at all, except that you eventually, after massive doses, learn that they give you serial burps.

Not an aid to learning, unless you want to learn to burp the National Anthem.  In which case, I wash my hands of you

The only advice I can give, is to tell you what has worked for me.  Which might not work for you.  So, I suppose, by giving advice I am really setting myself up to be hunted by writers with sticks, who fully took on board my advice about Overcoming Writer's Block (which, by the way, if you are interested, and if you can't be arsed to click the link above and read through the whole thing, consists of 'read a really terrible book and become so incensed that it got published that you are driven to write, because, however bad your writing may be it can never be as bad as the Terrible Book') and thus found themselves still suffering from writer's block, only now with bookshelves full of Truly Terrible Books.

So, if you are to read any advice given by me, please consider that the words 'Your Mileage May Vary' are appended, albeit invisibly.  What is perfectly good advice for one writer may be inappropriate for another, even within the same genre.  Just as the men we find attractive are particular to ourselves (yes, yes, this is just another excuse to put in a picture of Our Tone...)

...because otherwise there would just be one, really, really smug man surrounded by the whole of womankind all fighting for his attention, apart from those of us who really couldn't be bothered and had wandered off for a cup of tea and a chat.

Yes. Mr Armitage, I am looking at you...

Sunday, 9 March 2014

I ponder the casting of clouts, what, where and when? And why? And what does it have to do with throwing leftover pie at the fence?

It has been quite mild around here recently and, all right, I admit it, I am thinking of casting the odd clout.  I haven't quite settled on which one to cast, obviously, so I am sitting here fully clouted and think I may have to post some kind of online poll.

I refer, of course, to the old saying 'cast not a clout until May is out'. Up here in darkest Yorkshire, a clout is generally an item of clothing. That, or a clump of earth, so I am thinking of hedging my bets and celebrating the onset of spring by taking off my socks and throwing a handful of mud at the wall, which will not only leave me with chilly feet, but will also confuse the neighbours. Probably not much though, I have a tendency to lob things at fences, and mud will make a nice change from leftover pie, cats and annoying books.  The jury is still out on the sock thing, though. Maybe I could just cautiously remove one arm from my vest, in case the weather should take a turn for the worse again?  But if it continues to get warm that would leave me wearing three quarters of a bunched-up vest around my upper quadrant, which, at my time of life, does not need any additional bunching because I already have the torso of an elephant which has recently lost quite a lot of weight very quickly.

And, having sorted out the whole 'clout' question, there is still the dubiosity of which May we are talking about.  Is it May as in..

Because that seems a long time to wait, and May isn't completely out until the first of June which is a Sunday and I am bound by my (fairly specialised) religion not to remove any items made of wool on a Sunday, which means taking the picnic rug out of the back of the car is banned for starters.

Or are we talking about may like...

which, this far north, is sometimes not out until well into August, when I have become bonded to my clouts and have to soak them off in the bath.

Now I'm confused. Maybe I shall just keep all my clothes on and just throw some more pie at the fence...

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Hello, people who read my words! I'm so glad you're out there...and thanks for the five stars...

It's life, pretty much as normal at the moment, chez Lovering - for which read 'everything is damp, we've run out of cheese, and I can't find my pen'.  But visible signs of Spring are giving me hope that, whilst the cheese situation may well continue, and I probably left my pen in the car, the damp is probably, at some point, going to give way to steam.  Which is nice.

The other day I met someone who actually reads my monthly Yorkshire Post column.  (For those to whom this is news, I write a monthly column in the Yorkshire Post. Oh. Yes, you probably could have taken that information from the sentence, couldn't you. Hmm, sorry.) Here is a sample of the complete twaddle that I talk over there. It's very much the same as the complete twaddle that I talk on here actually, but it tends to have a more...Yorkshire flavour.  Yorkshire flavour is a sort of ..gravy, with a hint of seaside rock and an inexplicable twang of lavender, for some reason.

The taste of Yorkshire.  Sheep not pictured.
 I was a bit taken aback to realise that someone reads what I write.  I mean, I get reviews and things, and a huge number of them are very good, for which I am eternally grateful, but somehow I can never get my head around actual real people reading my books.  And columns, obviously.  Yes, I know people read this blog, sometimes, you know, if they've got nothing better to do and they've just picked up a packet of HobNobs and thought..'ah, yes, Jane likes HobNobs', or if something terrible happens to their fridge and they remember that I am the Queen of Terrible Things Happening to Appliances, and wish to check whether or not the tank in the attic that caused water to pour all over my DD3's bedroom floor, thus making her carpet inexplicably smell of the Cheese We Haven't Got (another long, pointless and boring story which will probably be next week's blog post) ever got mended.

It did.  There.

Anyway.  There I was, wearing pretty much only mud and a hat, being regaled by someone who lives in my village about my Yorkshire Post newspaper column. And all I could think of to say was 'you read it?  You seriously read it?'  I'm a bit like that with the books too.  Whenever someone who isn't either related to me or associated with me in some format or another (ie, will die at my hand if they admit to never having read a word I've written) tells me that they've got one of my books, I adopt a kind of 'recently dead smile' and lose all my words.  What do you say?  I can usually stammer out a 'I hope you enjoyed it' and pray that they don't come back with 'no, not very much, actually'.  Which people, confronted by an author wearing her pants on her head and a wild look in her eye, tend not to do.  Wisely, in my opinion.  And then I look and find that I've got a Five Star Review for Please Don't Stop the Music and a comment of 'best book I've read in ages'!

By the way, if you've never looked at my reviews for some of my books, do go and check them out.  Particularly the one-star ones, which are generally good for a laugh.  I mean, they hurt a bit at the time, but then I just go and read the five star ones, which outnumber the one stars by quite a bit (I could do the percentages but...actually, no, I couldn't. I get a bit wobbly around decimal points too).

So, general upshot of this entire post is - thanks for reading, chaps.