Monday, 29 January 2018


Like the lady on Facebook this morning who sent out a plea for chocolate because she is editing, I feel the same way. Fascinating as it is to see one's own goofs and gaffes, editing soon becomes a chore. I'm up to Chapter 8, so there's a fair way to go. 

My routine goes like this  ~  Print out 10 pages, check, make the corrections, print another 10. I may be doing this for quite a while.It will be interesting to see how much the word count drops in this first edit. I have no plans to cut specific chunks; if the 128K length reduces, it will be a natural editing process.

Meanwhile I am keeping an ear to the ground on the sexual harrassment argument which has now ventured into odd waters. Some female on the Andrew Marr show yesterday, whose name I had never heard of and instantly forgot, said that women should not be decorative items for male enjoyment. This has all arisen from the Presidents Club evening that aroused such a storm of protest, claiming that women were groped and made to wear provocative dresses. Now, I wasn't there, and I don't know anyone who was. My knowledge of that event is all hearsay. At first glance the claim seems valid - women should not be groped and certainly not harassed or assaulted. 

But then one begins to wonder how far this goes. What frightens and upsets one woman may be flirtation or livelihood to another. I began to think of all the females who pose semi-nude in glossy magazines, who adorn huge posters on hoardings and on buses, in their underwear. They make a lot of money by doing so and become celebrities. They turn up at sporting events such as the Tour de France, Formula 1 and darts, to name but a few. What about cheer leaders? What about ball girls in tennis wearing skirts so short we can see the curve of their cheeks while ball boys wear sensible knee length shorts? Book covers frequently sport sexily clad females. The pop world so beloved of many has been semi-pornographic for years and I’m only surprised that no tales of sexual harassment has come out of that world as yet. The school girls these days wear pelmets instead of skirts and no one is making them do it. Some females enjoy "showing off their assets" and demand attention in this way. Watch anything on the box and there will be the female showing lots of bare skin and huge amounts of thigh. Advertising would collapse without sexily-dressed women to promote the goods. The thing is the attention comes sometimes in a way that some women don’t like and it is not always directed at the one who wants it.

I don’t know how this problem is going to be sorted, if it ever is.

Monday, 22 January 2018

An excerpt....

"The room was small. The soft glow of a six-armed candelabrum shone on the wood panelling, gleamed on the pewter utensils on the side table and bounced off the gleaming gold crucifix nailed to the wall. A woman sang as she rocked the carved wooden cradle to pacify the child within. Matho released the breath he had been holding, and thanked the Lord that she sat with her back to him.
Unlike the plump, matronly servants who cared for the Carnaby children, this one wore a flimsy white nightdress with soft folds bunched and tangled around her slender feet. A crimson and gold embroidered shawl hugged her shoulders. Thick, glossy hair hung down her spine, and candlelight sparked on the jewelled pin caught in its strands. When she lifted her hand, a large purple jewel flashed in the flickering light.
Did they recruit maids from the nobility these days? Fingers, pink and tiny as a bird’s foot, waved above the cradle and plucked at the woman’s hand. Delight quivered in her voice as she sang.
Matho’s throat ached.
Christ! Harry would think him a soft-hearted beggar. He eased back from the doorway, aware that any sudden movement would betray him. Once safely in the corridor, he rested his shoulders against the cold plaster wall, blinked and swallowed the lump that threatened to fill his throat.
Harry, puzzled, watched him.
Matho shook his head, and jerked his thumb in the direction of the nursery."

The snippet above  is from Abduction of the Scots Queen, out in both paperback and Kindle. The house was supposedly once Darnley's house in Stirling.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

E-book claims

The Publishing Association show that sales of consumer ebooks have dropped by 17%, while sales of physical books are up 8%. Consumer spending on books was up £89m across the board last year, compared with 2015. 

Paula Cocozza wrote a fairly long article about this back in April 2017 asking So why is the physical book winning through? I read it with interest and then found this statement:

The figures from the Publishing Association should be treated with some caution. They exclude self-published books, a sizable market for ebooks. And, according to Dan Franklin, a digital publishing specialist, more than 50% of genre sales are on ebook. Digital book sales overall are up 6%.

I looked back at th earlier figure: ebooks have dropped by 17%  and wondered how to match the two statements in my mind.

“It’s not about the death of ebooks,” Daunt says. (James Daunt of Waterstone) “It’s about ebooks finding their natural level. Even in the years when ebook sales were rising greatly – and clearly cannibalising physical book sales – it was always very clear that we would have a correction and reach an equilibrium.” The UK, he says, has “adopted” ebooks and they will remain a substantial market (while in France, for instance, ebooks are only 3% of the overall market). The last thing he – or any seller or publisher of physical books – wants is the death of the ebook. “We want people to read. We don’t mind how they read,” he stresses. He knows that people who read, sooner or later, will buy books.

Perhaps you'll be able to explain to me how those two claims match together.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Scared of Amazon

Selected a wonderful list of books yesterday in anticipation of spending my gift token. Chose nine titles all from awesome books at 0.35 pence each, hopped over to checkout and stopped short. The total cost of the books was something like £3.50 - but the postage and packing charge was £28.00! 

Telling myself it was too good to be true (to get  so many titles for so little) I went away shaking my head. They were all paperback, all from the same second-hand dealer in the UK and couldn't possibly have cost that much to post them all together.

Anyway, I declined to spend that much on postage.

Now I'm looking more carefully at each screen as I go. For me Amazon seems to be a minefield. Last time I remember their system swallowed my gift card and gave me nothing in return. (I did get it all sorted out, but it makes me wary. A couple of years ago I found I had somehow selected Amazon Prime and £79 had gone from my bank account. I did not and still don't want Amazon Prime, but their screens are so trickily worded and set out that it is easy to fall into the trap. DH fell into it a year or so later. Again, we both got everything sorted and money returned, but this sort of happening does make one wary. DH wont use Amazon any more. I use it, but in fear and trembling!

Wish me luck as I try to spend my gift wisely!

Since we have snow, wind and cold temperatures forecast for my area today I've been up and walked Tim so we can now hunker down in a warm house for a few hours and see what happens. Forecasts don't always come true, but I went looking for snow pictures and found this, taken in Zermatt in 2009 when we were perched on the top of the Kleine Matterhorn in sub-zero temperatures at something like 12-13,000 feet.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

A trip out

I may just re-charge my ipad and spend the rest of the day reading this thread on Twitter. What a hoot! Best thing in a long while.

In spite of today being Saturday we took a trip out to Wallington, a National Trust place not far away. It's a while since we've been there, and both self and DH had to think really hard to remember the way to get there! It's somewhere we've been hundreds of times and of course once we remembered that it is off the A68 we wondered how we could have forgotten. I guess this is one of the signs of how much information we are obliged to cram into our minds these days. Perhaps my shelves are getting full and need weeding!


There is a whole new layout for the car park which seems to have increased at least threefold in our absence. There is also a 6-mile cycle track which we blithely assumed accommodated dog walkers as well (luckily we were correct!) and so we walked for a good hour or so through fields and woods and met only one other dog walking couple - and they were 200 yards ahead of us where the tracks converged. After doing that we didnt need to follow the crowds into the courtyard or the shop or the house; nor the walled garden either. We'll save those things for a weekday when it will be less crowded. But it was nice to go back.

As a rule I'm not overkeen on sharing bridlepaths and footpaths with cyclists as so often they are used by hulking men who hurtle by without warning and expect me and my on-lead dog to get out of their way. The family groups and the "gentle" riders I have no issues with; it is the lycra clad, crash helmeted 15 stoners who ride at 30-40 miles an hour without use of bell or voice as warning. Do they not realise that the noise they create is behind them? If they do not alert us that they are going to overtake, we do not know that they are behind us.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

More travel woes

Remember my stories of  our relatives travel woes during a journey from Australia for Christmas? Well, they were among the 13,000 tourists stuck in Zermat yesterday with all road and rail links closed by 1.60 metres of snow. (Bearing in mind that I'm only 1.65 metres, that seems a awful lot of snow!) We feared that their onward flight back home to Sydney would be missed in the chaos.

However these members of the Black family are nothing if not resourceful. Last night we received  news that they were safe in Zurich, having got a helicopter flight from Zermatt to Tasch where they picked up their booked hire car and drove to Zurich. This morning they should be on their way to Helsinki and from there back to Australia. 

I wonder if they'll venture this way ever again?

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Mad world

Has the world gone mad? I noticed an article  in the newspapers that made me think so. The headline claims Prince Charming is a sex-offender. Yes, that's right. Even fairy tales are now under the microscope and declared wanting.

 Check out the full article Here

Kazue Muta, a professor at Osaka University has reportedly claimed that certain fairytale princes are less about romance and instead perform "quasi-compulsive obscene sexual acts on an unconscious partner". 

I might have thought the professor was joking, presenting an argument that would bring her a little publicity but when I saw the title of one of her other books, I abandoned that idea ~ Boss, That Love is Sexual Harassment! 

The article is sketchy to say the least.  I glanced at the first few comments and could not help a smile. "Next time Prince Charming sees a damsel in distress he should let her rot," says one, and you can see why. Why are (some) women so keen on men bashing these days? 

It seems that (some) women are keen to break down the male/female roles that have existed for centuries, forgetting that other women are more than happy with the way things are. 

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

A new beginning, or An overhaul

If you are like me, you write a profile biog to Facebook or Twitter and promptly forget about it. The same goes for book blurbs on my blog, not to mention cover photos that ought to have been updated. Something I read on Facebook yesterday jabbed at my (guilty) conscience and partly because it was New Year's Day, I looked at some of the old information about myself and my books and quickly decided it needed up- dating.

It is such a quiet time of year now that the festivities are over and guests have gone on to other countries that it is a good time to reconsider how I present myself. Unfortunately while I have gained in writing experience over the last decade, and learned various ways of attempting PR, I have also gained a few more lines and wrinkles than I used to have, so I am not so keen on putting up new photographs of myself unless I go for the misty, half veiled approach - which might work!

They (those pundits who know so much about these things) keep telling me that paper books are on the rise again, and certainly my e-book sales have slowed this year. It is hard to get a definitive view of what is really happening with so many conflicting reports from journalists and the various publishing and book bodies out there. I often wish I had started  writing a lot earlier than I did, but I can't change that. I enjoy what I do, so I'll keep on doing it,and try to be a little more pro-active with my PR stuff. I'm fit and healthy as we embark on 2018 and the only thing that gets between me and my writing is the time I spend with my husband and my dog. Oh, and Facebook. And Twitter. And probably a few other things I've forgotten....

Lost dog!

Sunday 8 th May Slow start to a sunny day with a promise of high temperatures. Bill took Perla out at 7.30 as he has done all this month ...