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Showing posts from February, 2012

RELUCTANCE

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Received my new cover yesterday, and while it is not representative of the pre-Regency period at all, I think it has a certain charm and I like it. The experts in the e-publishing field tell me to promote the story now, even though it won't be available until April, so here we go: The story is set in County Durham in 1803. Frances, a rich young widow, is by the river one sunny afternoon when her dog causes a horse to shy and the unknown rider to take a tumble. She must drag him from the river.... Reluctance   Could he be a vagrant, or a highwayman? Disturbed in the act of robbery and escaping as fast as he could? He was certainly a strong horseman and the animal had been expensive. His clothes… She ran her eye over the long length of him, took in the riding breeches and top-boots, both of a quality far beyond the pocket of a mean highwayman. Her mouth twisted. What did she know of highwaymen? His left hand, relaxed and long-fingered against the stony ground, bore a heavy

Rowling's new venture

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There seems to be a cloud of secrecy about J K Rowling's novel for adults scheduled for publication later this year. Not a hint or a whisper about the content, not even genre. Could she be writing a romance? A historical?  A paranormal? The imagination runs away with ideas... I suppose it's more likely to be literary fiction, or aimed in that direction. Story of how a pennyless single mother writes in secret for years and finally finds success, and a new lover, perhaps? It's a big risk she's taking, because in some ways children are an uncritical audience. They either like it or they don't, and if they do, they'll clamour for more, more, more. But adults are a different thing altogether, especially in cases such as this. There will be those that think she has all the success and monetary reward one author ought to have, and that it isn't fair to try for more. Others will applaud her efforts for trying, even if they think the result is pretty feeble. So

Get a grip

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For a brief moment this morning I sat down at my computer and wished I was back at work. At least it puts a structure on the day, enforces it even, and today seems to be one of those shilly-shally days when I'm not going to settle to doing anything much. It might be the weather. Yes, let's blame the weather. After a cold, bright weekend with sunshine all day Sunday that enticed us out, we drove over to Wallington and walked the riverside walk, which was lovely. Today, though the temperature is due to go up from -4 to 8, it is grey, damp, and miserable. I'd prefer yesterday, please. I don't really want to be back at work. I have far too much to do without that. Maybe a cup of coffee will perk me up a bit, spark the old grey cells into action.  I tell myself I'm really lucky that dh just made me a cup of fruit tea. It's days like this that I lose hope of ever securing an agent and Twitter seems full of comments denouncing e-books as rubbish. But really, it's

Tudor population figures

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If my sums are correct, the French king was not niggardly when he sent the 30,000 crowns to Scotland in 1543. In today’s terms he sent £15 million in Scots currency, and £3 million in English currency. (But I still haven’t discovered which currency was the right one.) It was to be used as bribes to persuade Scots nobles to turn against Henry of England and cleave instead to France and the Roman Catholic church. I’ve been searching the internet for Population figures for Europe in sixteenth century, and though the figures differ by a couple of hundred thousand in some reports, and remembering that pre 1800, most are best guesses, here is what I found: Europe 105 million, France 10 million, England 4 million and Scotland half a million. Even today the Scots number only 5,222,200 against England’s 51,809,700. Northern Ireland comes in at 1,788,900 and Wales 2,999,3000. Amazingly, there are almost as many people of Scots descent living in the USA as there are in Scotland –

Tudor money

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Had a bit of a tussle yesterday with money. Not mine, but theoretical money in the sixteenth century. I read letters from Sir Ralph Sadler in which he reported details of his time at the Scottish court to his master Henry VIII. He reported that the French had sent 30,000 crowns to the Queen Dowager of Scotland and while the question of who got the money and where it eventually went is fascinating, my problem was - how much was 30,000 crowns? Mannlichen  slopes If they were English crowns, then they were worth five shillings each. If they were Scottish crowns, then they were worth twenty-three shillings each. Quite a substantial difference - £7,500 or £34,500. Until 1707, the two countries had different monetary systems and they changed with each king. I can see now why lots of novelists ignore the question of money except in the roundest of round terms! I decided that the French King would hardly bother to send three ships and an ambassador for a paltry £7,500 - and then remem
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Kleine Scheidegg It’s a good thing we slept well on our last night, because that’s where things started to go wrong. We were told at reception we couldn’t pay our bar bill until the next day. Hints that we were leaving at 5.45am cut no ice, so I had a swift word with the excellent restaurant manager, who promised to sort it out. In ten minutes we had a complete listing, paid up and went to bed happy. Next morning we left our cases with our ski boots and skis and waited in the dark deserted lobby for the porter to arrive and take our cases to the station in time for the 6.05am train. At 5.55am he had not appeared, but a pleasant and efficient young girl arrived, opened up the reception and telephoned the porter while we went down to the ski room and dragged our cases out into the freezing darkness, prepared to trundle them down through the snow to the station. The porter came running up the hill (the path up to the hotel isn’t long, but performs a z to make the slope more do-ab

Best day

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Friday was the best day of our week’s skiing. A lot of the cloud dispersed and that made visibility so much better, but it was -15 degrees even in the sunshine. Heaven knows what it was in the shade, but I can tell you that the hairs inside my nose froze and my eyebrows stood to attention each time I skied down the slope. Thanks goodness there was no wind. We found our way to the start gate of the Lauberhorn World Cup run, with the little ramp out of the hut where Bodie Miller’s American trainer seems to be locked inside so he can yell encouragement at bodie as he launches down the slope. Small kids of six and seven were pushing each other down it and generally playing the fool in the sunshine. Hotel Regina in Wengen We skied the first really wide part without trouble. When it narrowed and dived off down the side of the mountain we chickened out and opted to take the red run down to the little bridge and then turned sharp right to ski home to Wengen. On the way we passed a party

Wengen, Picoult and e-books

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A week ago today we decided we wouldn’t ski as the runs were still treacherous because of cloud in the valleys. Instead we went up on the train and walked back to Wengen dorf – a distance of about 10 kilometres. I enjoyed it. Much more time to look around and enjoy the pretty scenery, the pace energetic enough to keep us warm, and the route mostly a downhill drop of 2,500 feet from Kleine Scheidegg. Lots of sledges whizzing about, though none of them made up more than halfway up the hill in the picture! Sledging Jodi Picoult, one of the best-selling female writers, happens to be in the UK promoting her latest offering. In the Sunday Times, 5/02/2012, she suggests that electronic publishing may be far from a salvation for writers as so many claim. Writers, she says, get a smaller chunk of the profit when a book is downloaded rather than selling in print format. “The difference could cut their income by as much as a third.” I must admit my understanding was that e-book writers

Wengen

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Glad to be home! We arrived in Wengen on 28 th February and stayed at the Regina, a family-run hotel of Old World Charm dating from 1894. We had a south-facing balcony but the weather was so cold we only opened the door long enough to take a photograph. With a little sunshine it would have been marvellous, but one look at the pics will tell you we could hardly see the village, let alone the surrounding mountains. We took the M ӫ nnlichen lift next morning, disappeared into thick cloud and eventually broke through into bright sunshine and blue skies at about 7000 feet. We skied the two blue runs, which proved fairly easy except that each run disappeared into the mist and for two thirds of the run we skied blind. We stopped a lot, unable to see the way ahead and sometimes not even the poles marking the left and right of the run.   When we saw someone ski by and head off into the murk as if they knew the way, we followed them! Both runs dropped down the slope in front of the n