Wednesday, 21 November 2012

More muffins

I know, I know, it's always muffins and never Duck aux Bananes but the boys would never eat anything like that - and muffins taste gooood!I bought a big bag of blueberries and experimented a bit. The plain blueberry muffins were a bit boring, the blueberry and strawberry were a little too sweet, but the blueberry and apple (above) were just right for wet, wintry afternoons.

While I was waiting for them to bake, I wandered around the garden looking for the last few signs of autumn. There's not much left now, and I'll miss all the reds and oranges during the next three or four months of unrelenting, leafless muddy, grey bleakness that is an English winter.

My writing mojo is still missing - and I can't be bothered to try and force its return.
So I've been reading instead. I've been enjoying revolutionary France. With coffee and blueberry muffins of course.

I started with Sally Gardner's Red Necklace and moved on to Andrew Miller's (Costa winning) Pure, which was, of course, more learned, more evocative, more multi-faceted, but...somehow or other I still preferred the (admittedly quite silly in places) Red Necklace. I suppose that's why I was attempting to write for young adults myself - I'm prepared to overlook occasional preposterousness if a book also has dwarves, gypsy magic and mind-reading magicians. And to be honest, there were one or two bedtimes when I wasn't as much in the mood for corpses, rapists, and corpse-raping-murderers as Andrew Miller might have wished!

Now though, I'm deep into Laini Taylor's sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which also has plenty of revolutionary exploits and leaves every other book standing for preposterousness. And originality. And general brilliance. It's one of those I can't get through quickly enough - even though I know I'll regret going so fast when it's over...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


Look how cold and frosty it was this morning!
My bedroom is up in the attic, so my morning view is of glittering white rooftops and clouds of steam curling into the sky from all the heating vents near everyone's roofs. And every night I'm convinced I'll get up early and take glittering white pictures of frozen leaves and trees at the park which is less than a minute away from our house. I wouldn't even need to get dressed - I could put a coat on over my pjs and slip out. And yet...every morning I look out at the icy rooftops...and I think "Brrr...I'll do it some other morning..."

It's never going to happen. I live in the land of  'Always meaning-to-do-things.'
Look - here's one of the sun coming up. Although I doubt the photo's big enough to have captured all the rising, coiling steam. I love my room being so high up. During my teens I lived in a basement flat and hated it. Dark, damp - mildewy - ugh! - and always so many feet! Dozens of different feet passing by the windows - and never any idea of what their owners looked like.

Later on - by 8.30 or 9 o'clock - the days have all been turning grey, rainy and dreich. The six year old has a cold and the nine year old is down with his annual tonnsilitis. They're both being pretty stoical, though. Lots of indoor days and art projects. I love art projects even more than I love living up among the rooftops!

I'm helping the nine year old to draw pencil sketches of the monsters of ancient Greece. There's been lots of shading, cross-hatching, finger-smudging effects and some pen and ink work. We've been having a lovely time! So far we've done Medusa, the Minotaur, a Sphinx and a Cyclops - and he's working on the Hydra from his sick-bed. (Ok, he's supposed to be - he's probably playing Super Mario under the covers.)
Meanwhile, the six year old spent four days of the last half term working on a poster to advertise his school's Christmas Fair. The headmaster presented him with an advent calender, a big box of colouring pencils and an artist's sketchbook for all his hard work. The best bit is spotting the poster stuck up all around the school and in the windows of the local shops #proud#

Aha! The local church is having a Festival of Decorated Christmas Trees - which means our next project is already underway. And this time there are to be lashings of papier mache and air-drying clay involved before we even get the paints out. Ooh - and glitter! I'll post the results when they're done.

(I'm quite prepared to hide my religious skepticism in my pursuit of a fresh art project. Although I'm not sure the prize'll be up to much - for our Lord is notoriously mean.)

So, lots of christmassy fairs and festivals afoot already. Husband and self have already been busy on the internet and each day the postman brings another rain-sodden parcel for me to hide in the airing cupboard. There are some DVDs, computer gadgetry, plush Mario toys and a couple of dangerous-looking chemistry sets.

I'm gloating over this stash so excitedly, I can't help wondering whether I actually brought two children into the world in order to build up a secret cache of stocking fillers - and pursue my love of art projects...
There must be finer and nobler reasons for having children, but they're eluding me right now. Maybe I'll Google them later on.

Thursday, 8 November 2012


It's been a week since Halloween or as I remember it 'The Rainiest Night of the Year' - and my own two monsters, Dracula and "Frankingstein" collected so much loot that they still have one or two cola flavoured lollipops, Maoams and packets of chocolate buttons left to eat.
Ordinarily, I don't believe it's quite right to publish children's faces on the internet, but since both the boy's best friends and their grandparents failed to recognise them in the above guises, I don't think I have to worry in this instance.
(Actually the nine year old gives me that look of icy murderousness whenever I ask him to do pretty much anything!)
And this is how me and the other mums were feeling by the end of the evening...

In other news, I'm getting much better feedback since I started submitting my ms as an adult novel. Yesterday, Catherine Saunders from Curtis Brown wrote that " stood out from the many we receive," and asked if there was anything else I was working on that I could send (nope - but it's a great incentive for me to get cracking.)
I know, I know - it's still a rejection and may even be a form letter, after all it doesn't cost Curtis Brown anything to be nice to people - it's good PR. But it cheered me up no end - I think most aspiring writers can find encouragment in almost anything!
Two friends from my writing group have recently epublished their books and they look so beautiful I'm feeling very tempted to do the same...

Anyone fancy a twisty murder mystery?

Or a true historical crime?

I'm lusting after a pretty cover, my name in swirly letters and a writer's page on Amazon *swoon*

Of course I can't epublish while I'm still in the middle of the submissions process, but I'm beginning to see it as something to look forward to - rather than a last resort. In fact, my sister who is an artist, has already started sending me cover ideas. She's drafted a black and white picture with stormy seas...rugged rocks...a ship in full sail...lines of old fashioned handwriting across the sky...and of course the title in huge engraved letters. It made me go all tingly! *swoons some more*