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Snowy days

We're well and truly snowed in at the moment (third day running, I think I've forgotten how to drive) so no excuse for not writing. This does count doesn't it?

It's the sort of weather I remember having to walk three miles to school in during Northern winters, when I were a lass, the snowdrifts nearly up to me neck. (Well I'm only little and I was even littler then.) It doesn't happen often round here and I've happily gallivanted through frozen fields with Molly and negotiated knee-deep snow to get to the nearest village shop, but the novelty's wearing off.

It's all got a bit Victorian, what with the power going on and off and running out of basics like bread and semi-skimmed. If only you could milk a dog and power a computer with candles.

It's added a festive feel to things though - putting up the tree with soft flakes falling past the window made me feel rather whimsical, but I'm hoping it's gone by tomorrow. I've still got Christmas …

Back in the Real World

I daren't keep dwelling on the Lovely Thing that has happened. Even though I've now met Lovely Agent, who is every bit as lovely as I'd imagined and has said lovely things and has even sent me a lovely Christmas card. I'm just too scared of jinxing it all.

My inner reality checker has finally put in an appearance - I'm surprised she left it this long. Agnes I call her (though she prefers "Madam"). Formidable woman with terrible taste in shoes. Uses lots of lacquer to stop her hair doing something unexpected. She's a terrible party-pooper. "There's a long way to go yet Missy, so don't go getting Ideas," she keeps saying, wagging a finger.

I don't like her, but she has a point. Although scooping up teenage-boy-pants and feeding them into the washing machine every day is good for keeping one grounded, I find.

In the meantime I'm trying to focus on novel 2 (when I'm not doing the washing and arguing with Agnes) and putting off t…

Christmas comes early

A few hours ago I signed on the dotted line, so I guess it must be true.

I have an agent.

A real one, with teeth and hair and fingers and everything.

I daren't say any more in case it turns out to be a freakish mistake, but inside I'm marching along to a brass band with my pants on my head, singing "When the Saints Go Marching In ..."

Heaven knows why. They're not even my best pants.

Just wanted to let you all know, and make it a bit more real.

Shady lady

A customer sidled up to me in the library looking shifty and asked if I could help her look for a book.

Judging by her hushed tones, flushed cheeks and the nervous glances she kept flinging over her shoulder I assumed she was looking for information of an "intimate nature" - a book about piles perhaps, or something ingrowing. Unless she was on the run from the police and wanting a place to hide.

Or looking for our adult literacy collection. People are often embarrassed about admitting they don't, or can't, read very well.

Just in case, I adopted my most helpful expression (think therapist with a hint of favourite auntie - but stunningly attractive.) After a recent similar request I ended up in a long and hushed but illuminating discussion about autism with a lovely grandma looking for books on the subject after her grandson was diagnosed.

Imagine the sense of anti-climax when she asked in a whisper if we had Jordan/Katie Price's latest autobiography - "the one s…

Onwards

Well, the novel is Out There in the big wide world and to stop myself obsessing about how it's getting on I've made myself start a new one. It feels weird, getting to know a new set of characters, but the idea leapt out at me on one of my dog walks and demanded to be written. I'm enjoying it so far, but keep getting distracted by things going wrong in the house. Mice behind the bath panel making a horrid smell - that sort of thing. I'm resigned to the fact that we'll never be critter-free living where we do, but I suppose it's a small price to pay for being in the country and having lovely walks and views all round.

Elsewhere the lovely Colette has awarded me a ... well a lovely award, quite frankly. Made my day it did and the rules state I must pass it on, which threw me into a frenzy of indecision. I've decided TomFoolery deserves it for (among other things) her envy-inducing photography. Enjoy!

Away with the fairies

Over on Trashionista Anne Rice has declared that angels are set to be the new vampires, and the new trend in literature - good news for anyone currently writing about them.

It got me thinking whether there's anything that hasn't been big in fiction yet.

We've already had werewolves, vampires, ghosts, wizards, witches, zombies, mermaids, and all manner of mythical creatures. Oh, and humans. There can't be anywhere else to go, can there?

I rather like stories where common themes are explored from unusual or fantastical angles, providing they're made believable; the woman who's now a ghost trying to find love, the man who falls to earth and learns how to be human (Starman anyone?) The husband who comes back as a dog like the one in James Herbert's novel Fluke, and if they're funny even better.

Werewolves and zombies don't do it for me I'm afraid, but what about superpowers? I don't think they've been done before - in films yes, but not in women…

Cally Taylor Guest Post: Writing Highlights

In case you didn't know (;o)) Cally Taylor is the lovely (I've met her!) and talented author of Heaven Can Wait, published by Orion last week, and as part of her virtual blog tour has kindly stopped by to detail her amazing writing highlights of the past year. Over to you Cally ...

When Karen asked me to write a guest post about my writing highlights I didn’t know where to begin. I was temporarily flummoxed until a small voice in my head said, “Duh, the beginning would be a good place!” but let’s start with an introduction. My name is Cally Taylor, I’m the author of a supernatural romantic-comedy called “Heaven Can Wait” and the last year has been the most exciting one of my life.

It all started in September 2008 when I received a phone call from Madeleine Buston at the Darley Anderson Literary Agency. Maddie told me she’d been given my novel to read by Darley and she’d loved it so much she wanted to represent me and be my agent. When the conversation ended I put the phone down…

Look what I've got!

She's all over blogland today, and I couldn't resist showing off my own brand new copy of Heaven Can Wait, written by fellow Novel Racer and Saffer and all round talented writer, Cally Taylor. I almost daren't get into it because I know I won't be able to put it down and there are chores to be done. Oh, who am I kidding? Bread and jam for tea anyone?

There'll be a guest post from Cally on this blog on Thursday, 22nd October so look out for that, and in the meantime I'll try not to gnash my teeth and tear my hair out with envy. So not a good look.

Halloween and the Virtue of Patience

Mince pies have been in the supermarkets for weeks, which must mean it's... nearly Halloween. Not my favourite celebration of the year - all those hooded creatures turning up at the front door wearing masks and demanding money (and I don't mean the bailiffs.)

Discussing Halloween at work, I mentioned that when I were a lass, living 'Oop North, we didn't celebrate it at all, but the day before Bonfire Night was fairly similar. The 4th of November was called Mischievous Night - similar to trick or treating, only ... well without the treating really. No dressing up or anything, just people knocking on doors and running away, throwing eggs and flour around, smearing syrup on door handles (we once fashioned a cake from the mess left outside) making rather obvious ghosty noises outside the window, frightening old people, that sort of thing. You'd (quite rightly) be given an Asbo for it today.

The thing is, NO-ONE knew what I was talking about. Is it a Northern Thing? Has…

Pågående Europeiska !!

I HOPE that blog title means "Going European" in Swedish, and not something that would make my mother choke on a scone.

Yes I've sold a short story to a Swedish magazine, which means it'll be translated and everything. Bizarre, but lovely. Can't wait to see a copy. Won't be able to read it, obviously, but still.

Also the novel editing's going well and it's surprising how much closer I feel to the story, spending each day with it. Like honeymooners we are, me and the novel. Hopefully we won't get sick of each other in another few days and call the whole thing off.

Ahem. Think I need a cup of tea.

**Also got a story in this week's Take a Break. Which is nice!**

Fish and chip days

We only went and picked the best blummin' week of the year for our break in the Cotswolds. How the heck did that happen?

There was proper, bright yellow sunshine and a vast, cloudless blue sky - EVERY DAY. I've got a sunburnt chest, and I'm proud of it.

"Look," I keep boasting to anyone who'll listen. "Look how tanned I'll be when the lobster-redness wears off." I can't remember the last time I was burnt to a crisp by a British sun - or any other sun for that matter.

I now know that the two essentials for happiness are a lodge by a lake and the sun. Oh and time with the family; although a couple more days and the novelty of that might have worn off.

I've eaten too many portions of fish and chips, played silly games in the evenings, watched water-skiers showing off on the lake, stopped Molly from chasing ducks, written half a story, edited some more of the novel and not done any cooking at all.

And now we're home.

The weather's glum, bu…

Summer (ish) holiday

I'm off to the Cotswolds tomorrow for a week. We haven't had a family holiday for 3 years, for some unfathomable reason.
Oh okay, so I couldn't be bothered with the hassle of booking anything when there was the dog to consider, and my mother and work and school and ... you get the message. It was just easier not to bother, especially as I'm not keen on travelling anyway.
Still, I'm quite excited now, and have bought a suitcase 'specially. I hope the sun shines a bit.
I'll be taking the netbook in case story inspiration strikes, but as far as I know there's no Internet.
Gulp ...
See you soon.

The Good and the ... yawn

I'm lucky to have sold four more stories recently - one to TaB weekly magazine and three for the Fiction Feast - and currently have a story in the latest Woman's Weekly Fiction Special, bringing my total sales to 20. Which is nice. Hopefully that means I'm doing something right on the short story front at least.

However, mentioning this to that colleague at the library, when she asked me how the writing was going, led straight to one of those conversations. "That's lovely," she said, all twinkly. "But those stories are written very much to a format, aren't they? Surely once you know the format it's just a case of changing a few details - names, places and so on?"

??????????????

"It's really not," I said, tiredly. "Guidelines yes, but not a format."

"So you're telling me that every one of your stories is completely different, and I wouldn't guess that they were all by you?"

"Yes they are, and no I act…

The Wanderer Returns

You might remember the tale of how I deleted my first ever novel, after receiving a handful of rejections - conveniently ignoring the fact that I also had two requests for the full ms at the time, as well as lots of positive feedback. I was too stupid inexperienced at the time to know that was a Good Thing and literally wrote the story off.

Well, while my Mum was staying recently she said one afternoon, "I've still got that manuscript you gave me to read. Such a shame it didn't come to anything."

WHAT?? For some reason I thought she'd thrown it away, an assumption she was quite rightly offended about. "I'd never do that," she said touchingly.

Anyway, I asked her (nicely) to send it to me and it turned up today almost as good as new.



A couple of things struck me reading bits of it. Firstly, the optimum amount of time between finishing your novel and editing it should be roughly 5 years. It really was like reading something written by someone else.

Secondl…

Nice idea

I've had my mum to stay for a week, which is why I've been 'off-blog.' We had a lovely time - in spite of the drizzle - and managed to squeeze loads in.
While she was here it was her birthday and I almost gave her this lovely journal I came across in a local gift shop.


Each page has a heading ...

and things like, "who were your best friends when you were at school?" "What was I like as a baby?" "What was my first word?" and so on.

I say almost. Because on second thoughts I realised my mum would be horrified with a present like this.

She's from a generation of Northern women who aren't comfortable being touchy-feely and open about their emotions. If there'd been questions like "do you remember throwing your slipper at us when you were cross?" or "why did we always have corned beef for dinner on Wednesdays?" she might have co-operated - laughed even. "Describe the wallpaper over the fireplace in the house wh…

Doesn't Time Fly?

Two weeks since I last posted? How did that happen? In fact where's July gone? Turn your back for two minutes etc. etc.

I'd like to be able to say I've spent the past fortnight being fascinating - entertaining hordes of people at garden parties and throwing neighbourly barbecues. Or being productive - building a conservatory, say, or reinstating the ancient art of tatting (actually, I wouldn't mind a go.) Hell, I'd like to be able to tell you I've been sunning myself on a yacht in the Mediterranean, but t'would all be a big, fat lie.

Firstly, the sun has officially buggered off - in our part of the world anyway. At any given time I can be found trudging up and down the garden with wet washing slung over my shoulder, and when I'm not dragging the washing off the line I'm drying the dog, because walking through the fields in the pouring rain makes her soggy. (Me too, actually. Not a great look. My hair swells up in the damp.)

It can't be right. It…

Not Nice

Jane Smith over at How Publishing Really Works at has declared today Anti-Plagiarism Day. There are some interesting posts on the subject out in blogland and I thought I'd contribute in a small way.

I noticed this month that once again my book review in the local paper has been attributed to someone else. A man this time. Greg Burns. (It was Polly something last time.) I'm sure he's a very nice man. He might even be a very good writer - better than me. But he didn't write that 300 word book review. I did. I don't get paid, but still. I like doing them, and before the paper was taken over recently there was even a little photo of me to accompany the review and a bit about me and my services to humanity job in the library. Now, I don't even get a mention.

It sucks actually, so I can sort of imagine how people must feel to have whole swathes of text that they've sweated over passed off as someone else's work. Not nice.

Anyway, I've fired off a creative …

Done and dusted - for now

Well the first draft of the "rather silly" novel is finished. That is, I've typed The End. What happens now is anyone's guess. Accidental deletion knowing me.

No, the plan is to leave it to settle for a while (half an hour at least) before starting the real work of making it better. Hopefully I won't read it back and think, oh dear. Maybe I'd better leave it longer than half an hour for some proper perspective.

I shall rest my eyes for a bit and try and forget all about the characters, who have become like imaginary friends, and then crack on with some short stories. I've also had an idea for another novel so I may start that too - otherwise I won't know what to do with my hands.

Elsewhere: A random study somewhere has revealed that library staff are the least bitchy people to work with. They obviously haven't worked in our branch ...

(for obvious reasons I'd better add just kidding.)

Look into my eyes ...

This is silly but quite clever. Then again I'm rather simple about these things - you'll undoubtedly work it out much faster than I did. Sorry it's a bit blurry, but that's the best way to view David Copperfield in my opinion.












**Warning - Don't look into his eyes for too long, or you'll fall in love with him.

Admission of gross stupidity

How many times have I been told to back-up work on the PC? Only a squillion and two. The words are instilled in me, as they should be in anyone who uses a computer every day. Do I take heed? Well most of the time I do, actually. After all I'd hate to lose 13000 precious words wouldn't I? Precious to me. To anyone else it might seem a blessing.

So why oh why oh why in the name of Maltesers, did I not do that very simple thing on my last few writing sessions??? I know why. I'm a fool. I copy my work onto a memory stick, which I'm forever jabbing into my Netbook then transferring to the computer at home or even at the library sometimes, and I started getting lackadaisical about saving to the hard drive. Naturally the unthinkable happened.
Yesterday I saved my work to the USB pen as usual, stuck it in the PC later on, tried to open the document (with the whole novel on it - 77000 words worth) and...nothing. Worse than nothing. A nasty little message saying "this file is…

A day at the zoo

I've sold a story to Woman's Weekly for the first time, so I'm Very Pleased Indeed.

It fair took my mind off traipsing round Cotswold Wildlife Park in the pouring rain and a howling wind (don't know what went wrong there - the weather forecast was quite good). The fellow above made me smile though. Looks rather like a cartoon guinea-pig.

I never did find out what he really is, and I'm not sure I want to. And there were lots of things in threes ...


What's that all about??

8 things

The lovely Laura Cassidy recently tagged me to reveal "8 things" so to take my mind off the fact that my daughter, having passed her driving test, is now trawling the highways in her first ever motor-vehicle, being cut up by shouty men in white vans, and that I still have a way to go before meeting my self-imposed June 26th deadline, I'm more than happy to oblige. Even though I should be writing. My novel.

*Warning - some of the answers may not be true (don't sue me)

8 Things I look forward to

Making a cake and eating it (all)
Settling down to read a book
Settling down to write a book
Saddling up my seahorse (Riley) and riding the waves on a hot summer's day
The audience response when I play my trombone with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (they often cry)
Playing in the sandpit with my meerkat, Thomas
Seeing my husband at the end of every day
Reading your blogs


8 Things I did yesterday

Combed my hair
Thought about claming my mortgage on expenses
Went to a Pampered Chef pa…

Milestones

If you'd care to swivel your eyes towards m'word counter you'll see that I'm now over halfway through the novel. These are the most words wot I have written since I managed a whole one a few years ago (when I was young and foolish) and I'm Very Chuffed.

Also I wrote the word Penis yesterday, without blushing. In the novel, not on the pavement or anything. It was in context, but quite humourous as I still can't write Serious Sex without imagining my mother's expression.

Which is totally unfair as she's probably more open-minded than I am.

Twelfth time lucky

Author Sophie King was signing copies of her new book The Wedding Party at an independent bookshop near where I work today, so I thought I'd pop along.

What gives me hope with my writing is that, despite being a successful journalist and prolific short story writer under her real name, Jane Bidder, Sophie wrote 11 (yes eleven) novels before finally getting published. One of them was rejected because her agent had taken on another novel that was too similar. How annoying must that be?

But she Never Gave Up. And neither will I - despite my porridge elbow giving me gyp (jip? gip?) grief. Although it's better than it was, so I can't complain!

Flying fingers

Excuse the lack of intelligent blog postings (not that they ever were) but I'm using all the words in my brain for my novel right now. Long words, short words made-up words and even clever words like Circean - which refers to beauty of a dangerous kind. I know that because I've just looked it up. I haven't really used it (I'm not that clever) but I think I will now, I like it.

To meet my deadline I have to write 833 words a day, which sounds easily achievable until you factor in everything else I have to do. Miss a day and suddenly I've got, er, 1666 words to do the next day - miss that and...you get the picture. 4200 words a week it works out at (don't sue me if I'm wrong, Maths was always a weakness) which sounds downright scary, but even so. I'm determined to do it. I'm enjoying doing it.

And if I don't do it everyone will know I'm an eejit, and I really can't have that.

It would make me feel like absquatulating.

Hot off the Press

Okay I probably need help, but I couldn't resist this -



The print's rather small so you might have to click on the image (don't bother it's not worth it) and it's here if you've not got anything better to do.
Now I really must get on with it.


Unbelievable

Stories in the news today that you simply couldn't make up ...

"Fir tree grew inside man's lung"
"Nine years for Tesco poo sprayer"

"Man shows off third ear implanted in his arm"
"Man bites snake on tail to escape its deadly grip"
"Man caught having sex with girlfriend while driving at 100mph"
"Bristol Crown Court closed after being overwhelmed by smell of garlic"(Probably put there by a man ...)
Okay there probably were some weird stories about women but none leapt out at me, honest!
Stranger than all that is how much writing I've done lately. I can't compete with Annieye's extravagant Easter output, but I've not done too badly at all. In fact I've rashly set myself a mid-June deadline for finishing the first draft.
There, I've gorn and said it.

Guilty as charged

The other evening I was on the computer (no wonder my elbow's still hurting) when a mini-kerfuffle broke out by the door as the Teens were instructed by Lovely Husband to vamoose. "Stop pestering your mother and let her get on with her writing," he said firmly.

He's very supportive and takes what I do seriously, which is wonderful, but dear reader I was actually on E-bay at the time. Sourcing a new toilet-seat to replace the one that's broken, while simultaneously tracking down a top I'd seen in a magazine. I was planning to follow this up with a raid on the BBC Good Food website in search of a no-bake cheesecake recipe. Not that I couldn't be bothered to bake one, I just fancied one there and then.

Thing is I felt so guilty as everyone shuffled off talking in exaggerated stage whispers, that I shiftily opened a document at random and discovered a short story I'd abandoned a while back. I read it through and it wasn't bad, but I'd clearly lost …

Porridge elbow

I seem to have developed what's fondly known in our family as "porridge elbow" - a rare form of repetitive strain injury. The term came about when my mum developed a painful elbow that needed treatment, but couldn't understand why. She doesn't use a keyboard, she doesn't play tennis and she's not on her hands and knees scrubbing floors all day long. Then it dawned on her. The reason her elbow hurt like hell was because she'd been stirring her porridge too vigorously every morning for years, to stop it sticking to the pan. Strange but true.

My injury is more obvious. Over-usage of the mouse. My left elbow is fine, but I'm forever scrolling up and down with my right hand on the critter; cutting and pasting and left and right clicking all over the place. When I move the fingers on my right hand there's a corresponding ache in my elbow that's not crippling, but niggling none the less. Like a toothache. But in my elbow.

I'm trying to navigate…

It was an accident Officer!

I've read several author interviews recently where the writer claims to have fallen into writing by accident, conjuring images of them lurching around looking dazed having produced a masterpiece without noticing. Can this really happen?

MaeveBinchy apparently used to write letters home from a kibbutz in Israel to reassure her parents that she was still alive, and they sent them off to a newspaper because they were so good, sparking a successful career.

Jane Harris started writing a short story about an ex-boyfriend who happened to be a transvestite, to amuse herself while living in Portugal in the early Nineties, as there was no TV, books or money. Sparking a successful career.

Susan E Philips and her best friend decided one day - just for fun - to write a book together. After some months they apparently worked out a system. Sparking a successful career.

Catherine Spencer fell into writing as she approached the menopause, ready for a change of career, and after eavesdropping on a conv…

Just tell the story woman

Things are moving along on the writing front (she says defensively.) I've sold a couple more stories, and I've started writing a new novel that I'm really excited about. It's a measure of how excited I am that I've written the equivalent amount of words as Novel 1, in about a third of the time. (I'm not very good with Maths so that might not make sense. I've written it quickly, let's put it that way.)
I feel guilty about abandoning Novel 1, though I'm hoping to go back to it at some point. It had got to the stage where some major things needed changing and I couldn't quite muster the strength. Plus I'd had this other idea you see, which wouldn't lie down and shut it's face.
The thing is, I keep remembering a quote I read on Gonna be a Writer's website - "you shouldn't practise writing you should practise finishing the writing projects that you start" - or words to that effect, and they keep tugging at my conscience.…

It's a Crime

One our library's best customers is a lady who's getting on a bit, likes a ciggie (judging by the smell of the books when she returns them) and reads a lot of crime novels. When I say a lot, I mean she takes out around ten or twelve on a Saturday and brings them back on a Thursday. Naturally, this means she's read just about every crime novel we've ever had in the history of crime novels, but she gets Very Angry when she can't find anything she hasn't already read.
'Utterly ridiculous,' she tutted and huffed yesterday, twirling the spinners round in an agitated fashion while I was trying to shelve. 'I've read all these, duck,' she said to me, when I accidentally caught her eye. 'I miss your table.' She looked longingly at the space that used to house a display of New Arrivals until it was deemed to be In The Way. Maybe she thought new crime novels materialised overnight, by supernatural means.
'Maybe you should try some of our oth…

Red nose and cheeks

Saw this on lovely Debs blog and thought it was worth looking silly for a good cause. If you fancy a go you can download yourself a red nose here.
I'm blushing because I've received a couple of tasty awards. One is from that fine wordsmith Dumdad all the way from Paris, and I've been assured I can keep it all to my greedy self...



... and the other is from the the very writerly JJ in bloomin' Bangkok, so it's gone all International. This one I've to pass on to three worthy bloggers, so I hereby nominate Amanda, Anna Scott Graham and Lorna F.



I'm really chuffed. Plus, spring has nearly sprung. I've hung washing out today.

Drawing the Line

One of my favourite authors, Julie Myerson, has sparked a debate after writing a book about her son's use of cannabis and how it led to the heart-wrenching decision to throw him out of their home.
Now this is a tricky one, because her son did not give his permission for the book to be published and tried to have it blocked. In fact he's furious, and has branded his mother 'slightly insane,' saying, "This book is simply an extension of her maternal journalism. My mother has been writing about me for the past 16 years."

The extract I've read is beautifully written (as are all her novels) and in a way I'm curious to read it because (apart from the drugs, thank goodness) I can relate to it all too well, and her son's reaction could be said to be that of a typical teenager, and in a few years time he might be mature enough to read it and understand. BUT. Would I have written and published it? No. Maybe as a memoir or form of therapy, knowing it would ne…

Book scramble

No, this isn't a photo of customers at the library hunting down the latest Jeffrey Archer novel.
It's a photo of scavengers bargain-hunters at a Bookbarn warehouse in Bristol. The lease had expired and apparently it was cheaper to give the stock away than to try and sell it elsewhere.
I'm not sure what to make of it really. Maybe they could have offloaded them to charity shops at least? I guess if I was the author of one of those books I wouldn't be too chuffed, but I did like some of the quotes in the article I read about it.
"...they have been coming from far and wide. I had one chap call me up from Milton Keynes yesterday ..."
" ... I've got quite a mixed bag, something about hair cutting, housework, and another called 'The Life of Long Legged Women' ..."
" ... people have been backing cars and vans and even a Porsche into the warehouse so they can stock up..."

"... one couple even came in a campervan and I think they slept …

AND ... relax

Teen Daughter had her driving test today.

She was understandably nervous, not least because it's been cancelled twice already, due to bad weather, and she has to keep psyching herself up. Then her instructor decided to give up teaching at the eleventh hour, and passed her over to someone she'd never met before, with a car she's never driven.

It brought back horrible memories of my first test. I say first because it took me, ahem, four go's to pass. I was quite confident the first time, not really knowing what to expect, and thought I'd done well but I failed. They're not allowed to tell you why, at least they weren't back then, so after that nerves got the better of me. On my second test I was so determined to pass my mind went completely blank and I failed coming out of the test centre, which was unfortunately situated on a hill. On my third test I couldn't stop shaking and accidentally accelerated out of a junction, instead of braking, and narrowly miss…

Little things

There seems to be bad news wherever you turn these days. It's enough to make a girl cower under the duvet whimpering, but in my little corner of the world I've decided to make the most of the little things this week. Not the big stuff, like family, good health and being in possession of all my own hair and teeth. I'm very grateful for those already. No, the little things like,

...having a story in Best today, accompanied by a gorgeously fluffy picture that makes me smile...

...it's half-term, so I don't have to trek Teen Son to college and back every day. A journey that varies between 15 minutes and an hour depending on traffic...

...the weather's behaving itself for a change. I haven't fallen over and cracked my head for about three whole days...

...Mad Men and Damages are back on TV.

...I seem to have plugged the gaping plothole that appeared in my novel last week. With more plot, I hasten to add, not an old sock, some newspaper and a s…