Saturday, February 28, 2009

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 overnight and then crammed as many books as they could into their van and drove off ..."

" ... the contents of the aircraft hangar-sized warehouse are a librarian's worst nightmare, with the books piled willy-nilly and not separated according to subject or genre ..." Well I have to agree with that one.

I suppose it was better than burning the place down, and if it brings a whole new audience to "The Life of Long Legged Women" then who am I to complain?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

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 missed getting hit by a lorry. The examiner looked a bit faint.

The fourth time I was eight months pregnant with the twins, and could barely squeeze behind the wheel. The examiner, a steely-eyed woman with a look of the traffic warden about her, looked at me and hissed, "Don't think you'll get preferential treatment just because you're pregnant." Charming, I thought, convinced I'd already failed. I must have relaxed at that point. I even remember thinking what a lovely day it was. Blue sky, etc.

Naturally I passed, and I was thinking about this today while my baby girl was being put through her paces.

It's been a similar tale with the writing (there had to be a link somewhere!) First Ever Novel was written quickly and confidently and sent out straight away. Nicely rejected, but rejected all the same. I became nervous. Started trying too hard, and thinking all the time about getting published, instead of just writing.

So maybe it's time to relax and enjoy the journey again, and perhaps the rest will take care of itself.

At least I'm not likely to be hit by a lorry. Unless I'm writing by the side of the road. And a learner driver comes careering round the bend ...

Sadly, she didn't pass. I baked her a chocolate cake just in case and I think she's feeling better about it now. I reckon she'll do it next time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

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...'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 smattering of Polyfilla. I did that once when a shelf fell off the wall. It didn't work...

...I've sold another short story to Take a Break.

...I've invented a pudding that has the feel-good factor without the calories that cause my bottom cheeks to swell up. Not a good look ... so last season...

And - er - that's it really.

Like I said, it's the little things.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I Need a Hero

Flicking through my stats today, while waiting for short story inspiration to strike (more productive than than raiding the bread bin) I noticed that the keywords bringing people to my blog last week (only to be sorely disappointed) were "sexiest thing on two legs Armitage." I don't know why, as I can't remember ever writing about him.

This man can clearly do no wrong at the moment. He's coming top in all sorts of "ideal hero" polls at the moment, even toppling the magnificent Colin Firth who didn't even make the list this year. The world has truly gone topsy-turvy. However, I'm not immune to the charms of the Armitage m'self. Or more specifically the character he played in The Vicar of Dibley, and he does tend to pop into my head when I'm writing the male lead in The Novel.

Romantic heroes in women's fiction do tend to follow a pattern, physically at least. Thick, dark hair, chocolate brown eyes, lightly tanned skin, lazy smiles and muscular arms. I thought about writing one with thinning hair, a lazy eye, sticky-out ears and a limp, but it wouldn't work - even if he was phenomenally good in bed and kind to old ladies and animals. This is fiction. Our heroes have to be generically good-looking, alpha males, even if they're penniless and flawed in the personality department. It's the law.

The second most Google-ed words on my stats list were "sheepskin slippers".

Sex-crazed grannies anyone?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

In a Girly World

I'm not a typcially girly girl, but a friend sent me these pictures and I couldn't resist passing them on. I particularly like the hammer shaped like a shoe, for some reason...

That reminds me, I haven't been bowling for ages ...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Very trying

Teen Son zoned in on me earlier, as he's wont to do every now and then. Usually when he wants some something. "What happened to that novel you were writing when we moved here, Mum?" He even remembered the title. "'Making Other Plans'" wasn't it?"

Oh Christ. "Erm," I dithered, wondering if I could get away with saying, "well actually, darling, it's with my agent and will be coming out at the end of the year," and somehow get it written and secure a publishing deal before March.

"It sort of bit the dust," I admitted.

"I thought you were doing it again."

"Um, the moment had passed," I confessed. "But I'm doing another one now!" I added, pathetically eager, and he nodded sympathetically.

"Is that the one about being famous?"

"Er, no. I, um, sort of ran out of steam on that one."

His brow furrowed manfully. "Oh. What's this one about then?"

"Oh, it's sort of hard to explain," I wibbled, and he nodded with great understanding.

"At least you keep trying," he said kindly, before wandering off to annoy his brother.

It's horrid admitting failure to your children when they still look up to you and somehow assume you can do anything. They must think I'm a right hopeless case. I can't even make money grow on trees for heaven's sake.

"You couldn't lend me a couple of quid could you?" he said hopefully, five minutes later.

Like he said, it's the trying that counts ...

Oh, and a big thank you to the lovely Alis Hawkins for this rather smashing award!

If anyone would like to pinch it, feel free - you're all cool you know :o)