Category Archives: Uncategorized

Murder mystery, not a thriller.

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It’s my fault, really – I said I’d do a murder mystery in the library – well I love Cluedo, who doesn’t? So now I’m writing one and it’s so different from writing a thriller.

It seems that while one part of my brain is trying to extricate two children from certain death, the other is tying puzzle knots, making sure that no loose end is left hanging.

Come and join me in Salisbury library on Friday, 11.00 to see how I did, and I can see how you do with my clues.

You don’t need to book – drop in any time from 11 – 1

Part of the Salisbury Lit Fest.

 

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The daft things we do…

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This is me and Maudie a week ago. Full of excitement. But now it’s now and what seemed a good idea at the time seems a bit scarily close.

In just over three hours time, we’ll be bookselling at Waterstones in Salisbury – testing our expertise in kid’s lit.

You can test it too.

Come and join us.  3 – 7 the two idiots at the back of the shop.

 

 

 

 

 

Stuff that holds you up.

Now I’m not doing Nanowrimo – which for those who have never heard of it is a group of people who all try to write a novel in a month.  It leads to massive word counts and finished novels and is probably a thoroughly good thing, but personally, not for me.

I am though, trying to write a novel in a month. Or at least, finish one that I started a while back – I’m motoring through, huge word counts, massive chunks of plot down on virtual paper and the end is in sight.

But then I get stuck.

And its the silliest thing.

Two girls get into a boat and look for some food.

Olivia reached out for Grandpa’s lunch package.  Oh no. Innuendo.

Olivia rummaged around under the seat and found Grandpa’s sandwiches. Now I can’t stop the innuendo.

Chloe handed Olivia Grandpa’s packed lunch.  Even worse.

Reaching into a bag Chloe took out the lunch that Grandpa had given them.  Too  long.

“Time for lunch” said Chloe, digging out Grandpa’s package.  Arghghgh!

At which point, I go and have lunch and spend all afternoon looking for an old photograph.

 

As you were….

Here’s to sleep –

This year, my hopefully attainable, New Year’s resolution is to get more sleep.

Not to work more, or to eat less, or to exercise more, but to sleep more. And I don’t just want to lie in bed, I want to sleep properly. Deep sleep, the kind that  knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care.  The sort of sleep that means you go to bed with a knotty problem but wake up with it somehow solved.  The sort where strange and inexplicable dreams wander off with your worries and leave a soft rabbit’s ear of comfort in their place. The sort of incredible sleep that actually leaves you refreshed.

So – to this end, I have ordered the Empress of mattresses. One, according to the sales woman, that will transform my sleeping habits.

Hopefully, more sleep will make me a nicer person a more disciplined person, a clearer minded person.

Hopefully, more sleep will transform my  writing habits, eating habits and exercise habits too.

Ask me again in a year.

 

 

Indecision V Prevarication

For me, and I’m really talking personally here, these two are my worst enemies.

Indecision, is the thing that stops me writing – really.   Because in my experience the hard part of writing, and in some ways the exciting part of writing is  making millions of tiny decisions.  From tiny, to massive.  What word? Where? How?  What voice?  What character?  What should I do here?  What shouldn’t I do here?  What would happen if I took that section out and scrapped this character?  I have to think it through.  All the way through, but often my tiny mind isn’t really up to it, so instead, I get about half way and then…

I prevaricate.

I do a multitude of pointless things, like Twitter and Facebook and checking my sales figures on Amazon – Oh yes, I hate Amazon but I want to sell my books on it.  My son says “we’re human, we have a right to hypocrisy.”

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I clean the fridge, I empty the dishwasher, I paint windows, I pick up fallen apples and prepare them so that they add to the already enormous quantities of stewed apple stowed in the freezer, ready and waiting for the zombie apocalypse.  I dig the allotment so that the weeds have a better time in the freshly tilled soil.  I walk. I stare at the sky. I write blog posts.  I try to play Moonlight Sonata on the out of tune piano.

And so, after several days, when I’ve prevaricated enough, I go back to make myself make that decision. The idea is that time will have done the work for me.  Like sleep and that ravelled sleeve that Shakespeare invented.

If I’m really lucky, time has, and some higher wind takes me through it really fast and the little fragments of grey matter that have been so absorbed in packing apple into the freezer know exactly what to do.  Within minutes a whole mass of decisions have been made and acted upon.

But if I’m not lucky, as if tramping through mud on a slope, the whole thing becomes messy and backwards and I wish I was still painting windows.

Or peeling apples.

Preparing…

I’m getting ready for that event, on Saturday, in Bath.

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Getting a few pictures together.   A shot or two of model villages I love this one – Huven, geddit?

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Making some miniature cakes perhaps – anyone like cake?

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If you’re there – you’ll get to join in.

If not.

You don’t get any cake.

Memory and character.

The long hot summer (what?) is over, and the autumn is sneaking back with mist and rotting apples, and I’m cleaning out the house again.  Like some feral creature that chucks everything out of the nest with its back legs, I throw our lives into the garden in the hope that some of it might grow wings and fly away.  I’ve managed to fill three boxes with books for the Siobhan Dowd trust, another, for the school library.  I’ve got boxes of very eccentric things for the Cats and Dogs home shop in Frome, and clothes and more books for Oxfam.  All of this makes me feel lighter and freer and generally better.

We’ve also had no access to the internet for a fortnight, which has made me lighter, and freer and clearer – and it’s given me a better sense of what I actually need, which is not so very much.

But there are things I just can’t pass on.  Some books, some toys, some objects that I don’t really love but I loved the people who gave them to me.  Or perhaps I didn’t love them enough.

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This Royal Doulton Shepherdess for example. I don’t like her – I wouldn’t look at her twice, but she belonged to my grandma, a woman with whom I was in conflict until the day she died.  We got on so badly, that she once accused me of thinking of her as an ogre.  She was right, I did.  How a woman of such margarine solidity could have prized this mauve confection and what relationship they had I could not understand.  She would often talk about her time in India, as a beautiful young woman covered in lace and parasols, but that trembling creature was  well hidden by the time Grandma and I were doing regular bad tempered Friday night dates.  By the time I knew her, Grandma was enormous, and wore strange undergarments of immense size and structure –  of course as an adult, I know she wasn’t born that way.  I see that she became like that through years of loveless marriage and living as a kind of accessory to other people’s lives.

But when I was 10, Grandma was my nemesis.  Had George’s Marvellous Medicine arrived when I was young enough to read it, I could have sympathised.

I regret to say that I didn’t mourn her when she died, just heaved a sigh of relief.  But now I rather wish I’d got to know her although if I had, she wouldn’t be such a key resource to me.

Recently she’s become a character of great complexity that I like to revisit .  Because she died when I was 16 all my memories of her are from my childhood and my angry adolescence.  Wherever I remember her being, has to come from before 1979.  The way she spoke, her views (all utterly unPC) her attitudes to children.  Her superstitions. But more importantly, as a children’s writer it’s my view of her that’s really precious.  Uncoloured by maturity and an understanding of the many shades of grey that make up real life, it’s like a shot of pure child, that I can give myself over and over again.   It’s a box of righteous indignation, fury, unreasonable ideology, raw emotion that has lurked deep in my memory for all these years.

I wouldn’t want to let it out, except on paper, but it’s damn handy to have it there, hidden away.

That, I suspect, is why I hang onto the blasted shepherdess.