Thursday, 30 April 2009

Have you heard what they are saying?

Yesterday… Oh, don’t get me started on yesterday. Seriously not a good day. But it’s behind me now so I’m not going to bitch about it. Besides, the evening made up for it all. Last night I got word from my editor Loukie that she’d completed her final review of Kissed by a Rose, and was just waiting for me to approve the edits. I stayed up late to do that and I’m pleased to say that the final fair copy of the novel is now with the publisher awaiting a final sweep for typos by a proof reader before it can be packaged up into the finished e-book.

I am thrilled.

Release date is June 1st, but I’m already getting great comments back from ‘preview’ readers about the book. If the reviewers are as positive about the book as the comments below… well, I’ll be smiling all month long.

I truly believe that KbaR is the best thing I’ve produced. There are elements of it that I can’t quite believe I wrote. But I did. And I’m proud of it.

Anyway, here’re are some of the preview readers’ comments…

I want to congratulate you on a well-executed piece of craft and wonderful love story. I’m impressed with your skill as a writer.

The way you toy with the reader's feelings about Chloe, is she using him, or is she not?  It's all very subtle and one is never completely sure.

Adam is a brilliant character, I am half in love with him. ;)

You make it all seem so effortless. A very smooth reading experience.

Every single one of your characters had the ring of truth.

I guess you can understand why I’m pleased by these comments.

Kissed by a Rose will be available from the Phaze website on June 1st.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Can Sex be TOO Noisy?

I heard this story on the radio on the way home yesterday and had to look it up this morning. It’s hard to believe but it is apparently true. This woman first had a ‘noise abatement’ order served on her after neighbours complained about shouting, groaning and banging coming from her house – specifically, her bedroom.

She didn’t “abate the noise” so she was served with an ASBO (Anti-Social Behaviour Order) banning her from making noise anywhere in England for a whole four years.

Well, it seems that even that didn’t stop her and now she’s been arrested and held in custody to await trial by jury for making excessive noise during sex. The stupid thing is that she’ll probably be convicted and have to serve some jail time because her offence is breaking her ASBO and there’s not much she can say to claim that she hasn’t.

Being sent down for enjoying sex too much. Only in England, huh?

I’d have moved to Wales or Scotland if it had been me. Or bought a gag to shut her up.

Can I just thank everyone who reads this blog for not abandoning me after my short period of inconsistently. As you know, I’m a stat-hound and I was delighted to see that the number of hits yesterday’s post got had not declined despite my not posting last week. They do say that blogs need to be updated regularly to keep readers so I’m pleased I’ve stuffed things up.

kissed by a Rose is now just over a month from release, and as we get closer to release time, I’ll be posting some excerpts from the book exclusively on this blog. You might see excerpts on various Yahoo groups and other places, but the ones on here will only be on here.

Of course, to read the whole thing you’ll have to buy the book. Although, I might be persuaded tempted to give away a copy or two in a little contest.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Defending the Indefensible

I refer to my lack of blogging or indeed writing of any kind in the past week or so. The excuse is, as if you couldn’t guess, that “Real Life” is getting in the way. As it so often does. The tail end of last week I wasn’t even able to open my blog writing software during the day, let alone write anything, so busy have I been. Evenings left me shattered and climbing the wooden hill to bedfordshire at painfully early times.

The weekend wasn’t much better. A day spent digging up the hardened earth and picking weeds on the ‘jungle’ half of my allotment and a christening on Sunday, left me drained and lacking the mental capacity to write. Last night (Sunday) I sat down with my HP on my lap, opened up LiveWriter and then stared blankly at the screen for ten minutes before deciding I’d be better off asleep in my comfy bed.

It’s a shame because last week was a newsworthy week and I had a lot I wanted to say. I also had pictures of my allotment I wanted to show you. Still, while there’s not much point in my commenting on last weeks news now, I can at least post my allotment pictures. So here they are. Enjoy. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to blog about something just a little bit interesting.



Onion setsRaspberry Canes


Tuesday, 21 April 2009

A Sackable Offense?

Firstly, I must offer you, my dear readers, my most humble of apologies. I have been neglecting my duty to you as a blogger over the past week or so. And for this, I am most profoundly sorry. Now please allow me to keep my job.

Okay, I jest. But the point I am trying to make is a serious one. New broke today of yet another set of highly confidential government documents that have been lost. This time it was Culture Secretary (what, exactly does a Culture Secretary do in times of economic crisis I wonder?), Andy Burnham, who left his briefcase containing “restricted” files on a train when he got off in London’s Euston station. He has “apologised unreservedly” for his complete and utter balls-up.

So that’s okay then.

Of course, if it had been me, and I’d left confidential client or staff files on a train, no amount of apologies, no matter how unreserved they were, would keep me in a job. the boss would have sacked me on the spot and with good reason. Frankly, I’d have deserved it.

So how come Mr Burnham gets to keep his job? Why hasn’t he been given his P45 for such a monumental cock-up? I’d guess it’s because he’s a minister and ministers don’t get sacked. At least, not by this Prime Minister they don’t. After all, is there any good reason anyone can think of that Jackie Smith is still in a job? That woman’s had more cock-up over the past twelve months that your average fifty quid street-walker (sorry, I mean, “Sex Worker”).

Still, there’s not much I can do about it other than help vote this government out when the time comes.

To other matters. I spent most of this weekend down the allotment playing with my rotavator (oh, err, missus). The plot is just over a year old now and prior to our taking it over it was covered in grass, weeds and brambles. Last year we did a good job of getting the weeds under control on half of the plot but that lead to quite hard and clay-based soil. I’ve used the rotavator to break the soil up, mix in some manure and now it’s looking much, much better.

In that half of the plot we’ve got a whole bunch of stuff planted from potatoes, to onion and garlic and strawberries and raspberries. My job now is to tackle the rest of the plot- where the weeds seems to have taken control again. That’s going to be hard work. But ultimately it will be satisfying.

I have some pictures of the plot I took on Sunday, but haven’t been able to upload them to Flickr yet. When i have done I’ll post them hear for your viewing pleasure (if pleasure is the right word).

After writing five chapters of Will and Amy’s still untitled story while I was in France, I’ve managed about 5 words since. Quite disappointing but it’s been hard to find the time to crack on with it. That is frustrating as I can see the end of the story in the distance and would dearly love to have a first draft finished by the time Kiss by a Rose comes out in June.

Speaking of Kissed by a Rose, the final edit is coming along. All looks good for the release. I’m working on a 3rd YouTube trailer for the book and I have some edits to my website planned to coincide with the launch but in the meantime here is the splendid cover for you to enjoy and the current (2nd) trailer.

Kissed by a Rose


Wednesday, 15 April 2009

When you Walk Through the Storm – Memories of Hillsborough

April 15th 1989. I was 14. My best friend and next door neighbour, who was a Liverpool supporter, and I were playing football on a patch of grass at the end of our street – as we normally did on a Saturday. But it wasn’t any normal Saturday – it was FA Cup semi-final day. Liverpool were playing Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough in Sheffield. Kick off at 3pm. This was back in the day before SKY TV, when very few games were screened live on the box. We had highlights in the evening instead. It was back in the day when the FA Cup Final was the last game of the season and the biggest game of the season – so the semis were important because you were just one step away from that showcase season climax. The final was always screened on the BBC and ITV and one of the big topics of discussion in the week before the final was which channel you were going to watch it on – The Saint and Greavsie were best for the build up on ITV but the BBC had better commentators.

We were playing “Headers and Volleys” – a game where you try to keep the ball from touching the floor. I remember Ste’s mom coming out to us just after three and telling us that something was going on at the Liverpool match. That it was on the telly now. We went into his house and watched in absolute horror as the events unfolded. It was my first experience of watching news happening live on the TV – and perhaps my most vivid memory of doing so until some twelve years later as I watched, again in stunned horror, as the twin towers crashed to the ground  in New York.

I’m not from Liverpool. I didn’t know anyone who’d been to the game. I didn’t know any of the ninety-six who lost their lives. But it makes the impact of that day on me no less significant. It was a day that shocked the football community to it’s very core – and not just in England either. It could have happened to any club, anywhere. It could have been me. Or my mates. I guess I’m lucky it wasn’t.

Ste had wanted to go to the game, but his dad couldn’t get tickets – I’m sure his mom was very, very pleased he couldn’t.

Some good did come of it. England now has the finest football stadia in the world as a result of the Taylor report that followed the tragedy. But I’m sure that’s of no comfort to the families of the people involved. Stephen Gerrard, current Liverpool captain, is the most high profile of those figures, having lost a cousin who was just ten at the time. It’s an event that still touches a raw nerve in Liverpool and with all decent-minded football supports in Britain.

The anniversary will be in my mind all day. There but for the grace of God and all that.

The flames on the outside of the club crest were added in honour of the 96 and today, at 3.06pm, the time at which the game was stopped and the scale of what was happening became clear, fans of Liverpool will gather at their home ground to pay tribute with a two minute silence. Although, the rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone, the club anthem, that the fans gave at their match with Blackburn this past weekend is probably a more fitting tribute.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

#amazonfail – What the Hell happened? And my week away from it all.

Sunday evening, French time, I opened my laptop to work on my WIP and, as it always does, Thwirl opened on start-up. It was pretty obvious pretty quickly that something was going on with all the #amazonfail tags flying about. I’d stayed away from Twitter all day up to then as when I looked in the morning something was going on with someone called “Mikey”. So I spent some time reading up on the whole #amzonfail deal – if you don’t know what happened, here’s the BBC spin on it.

If this is indeed an Amazonian cock-up of pornographic proportions, does it really make it okay? I mean, had the reaction on Twitter not been so vociferous and instant, would Amazon have bothered to correct the error? That, of course, is if you believe Amazon’s given reasons.

On the other hand, if this is a deliberate change of policy on behalf of Amazon and the reaction of the Twitterverse has caused them to back track – that has to be a good thing doesn’t it? It shows that the internet has given power to the ‘people’, doesn’t it?

Honestly, I don’t know. What I do know is that either way it looks really, really bad for Amazon. A major PR cock-up. I bet they won’t do it again in a hurry.

Last week was very productive for me. I wrote five, yes 5, chapters in Amy & Will’s story and managed to review the edits for Kissed by a Rose up to the place my editor has got. So I’m quite happy about that. It feels good to have produced almost ten thousand words in a week. And the story is now well on its way to completion of a first draft.

I was also able to spend a lot more time with Mrs Nobbs and Jr than I normally do – which was kind of the point of having a holiday – so I’m pleased with that too.

Of course, I’ve come back to the office today to find my work piles have grown – and just when I’d started to get them under control. Still, it’s the price we pay, isn’t it? And I for one wouldn’t have missed out on the past week for anything.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Still on Holiday

What day is it? Yep, I sort of lost track over the past, however long. It’s easily done when you’re out of your normal routine. It is, I believe, Thursday, which means I have three days left here in Northern France before having to brave the British motorway system again to get home.

The past few days we’ve got all the ‘family’ stuff out of the way. You know, the visiting of relatives and what not. We haven’t been able to do as much outdoorsy stuff as we would have liked because the weather hasn’t been good. It’s been damn and cold. Yesterday, while we were in the hypermarket, the rain came down really badly. So for once I was glad I was in a shop.

Actually, that’s not very fair. It’s normally fun seeking out bargains in the French hypermarkets, but this time with Sterling at such lows, everything seemed a lot more expensive than usual. Spending over a hundred Euros hurts a lot more when you know you’re also spending over a hundred pounds instead of seventy or eighty. I really, really hope the pound recovers soon. But I doubt it will.

We almost died too yesterday on the way back from the shops. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it was scary getting cut up at a roundabout by a damn bus trying to push into your lane. What made it worse was that the bus was then in the wrong lane for the island anyway – he should have stayed where he was.

Had this been in England, I’d have been livid. But for some reason when your in France you just accept it. It’s as if in England, everyone knows the rules and tries to obey them. So when someone blatantly breaks them, you get pissed off at them. But in France, everyone knows the rules, but everyone also ignores hem for the most part. It’s very much ‘everyman for himself’ so you just accept bad driving as par for the course.

Has anyone ever driven in Paris? If you have, you’re a braver man than me. I’ve stood and watched some of the drivers there and swore I’d never, ever try it.

Yesterday on Twitter I spoke about how writing some scenes can be hard on you emotionally. Like this one from Lost & Found that you can find on my website. I wrote a scene like that yesterday. It’s Amy & Will’s story again, which is getting to the point where i should be able to hammer down the home straight with it soon.

It was a really hard scene to write because of what Amy was telling Will. There were some big revelations in there about Amy’s back story which hopefully will make the reader have a lot of sympathy for her and what she’s been through. But I guess that’s not up to me to decide if I achieved what I wanted to. Two thousand words I wrote yesterday. So regardless, I’m pleased with that at least. It seems that, as hard as those scenes are to write, once you start on them, it’s even harder to stop.

Anyway, that’s it for today. I’m off to watch Disney/Pixar’s Cars with my little boy. Again.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Holidays – Day 1

The first ‘proper’ day of our holiday has been great. The weather has been kind with lots of blue skies and it’s been nice and warm but not too hot. We’ve been out for two long walks with Jr and I managed to take some nice photos on my phone. They’d have been better pictures if I’d remembered to take the good camera with me, but they’ll do for now. I have also managed to write just under a thousand words – so I’m happy on all fronts.

This morning we went for a walk around the market in Le Grand Place – the main town square. It was packed and seemed really odd seeing those market stalls seeing recordable DVDs and sexy underwear next to those lovely old buildings.

Le Marche du BethuneLe Marche du BethuneLe Marche du BethuneLe Marche du Bethune

Then this afternoon we went to a nice park calle Le Parc de la Gare d’eau. It was a lovely day for a walk along the canal and Jr really enjoyed playing on the slide when we got there.

Le Parc de la Gare d'eau, BethuneLe Parc de la Gare d'eau, BethuneLe Parc de la Gare d'eau, BethuneLe Parc de la Gare d'eau, Bethune

And now it’s time to put Jr to bed. Night, night all.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Settling in

We set out this morning bright and early at quarter past eight expecting a nice easy drive down the M1, round the M25 and along the M20 to Dover. We had meant to leave dead on eight, but that’s besides the point.

And a nice easy drive is pretty much what we got. It is Sunday after all so there wasn’t much traffic on the roads. The stretch of the M1 that they spent all that time and money widening over the past 18 months or so has made a huge difference. In some parts it’s six lanes each way one, which I can tell you, is just really really weird to drive on. We did encounter some Scunthorpe supporters on their way down to Wembley for the Johnston Paints Trophy at the South Mimms services, which was a bit intimidating for the little one. I don’t think he’s ever come across a large group of fully grown men chanting and being generally blokeish. Still, they got beat by Luton in the match itself, so I bet they weren’t quite as loud on the way home.

We got to Dover at midday having stopped twice on the route. You can do Northampton to Dover in under two and a half hours if you don’t stop and get a good clear run, but to do it in less than four having stopped twice is pretty good going. We timed the arrival well as we didn’t have to sit around on the docks for very long before getting on the boat – the Sea France Rodin. Very nice boat. Crossing was smooth and calm. It’s been a hot and sunny day so it was strange to see quite so much mist coming off the Channel.

And, as always, driving on the Frrench Autoroute is a dream. You rarely see another car. It can be quite tiring, but I had Mrs nobbs to keep me awake with her mouth (she talks a lot you dirty minded pervs. My son was in the back seat remember.)

So, here I am, not sure if the clock on my laptop has set itself to French time or not after realising it’s connected to a French wireless broadband hotspot. I’ve already written a couple of hundred more words of Amy & Will’s story, so that’s not bad. Hopefully, I can write a couple of hundred a day and I’ll be happy.

Here’s to a relaxing week.

ps, I’ll try and twitter when I’m writing, but for some reason my mobile phone isn’t receiving a signal yet here in France. It always has before so this is odd. Mrs Nobbs’ phone isn’t getting a signal either. Very strange that but it does mean I can’t send tweets by text. Anyways, have a good week everyone. TTFN.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Tough Week, Now for some R&R

It’s been a tough old week for me, just as I thought it would be. I’m not going to bang on about it because, frankly, my stresses and pressures would bore you silly. Who wants to know about a multitude of invoices and hitting a Friday afternoon deadline for a host of reports to the boss? I don’t think I would.

So what would I want to hear about? Well, how about the status of my WIPs? Yes, plural. I know it shouldn’t be and that I really should work on one at a time, but I’ve got two major projects that  I’ve started and am working on. Having said that, recently I’ve been focusing on one of them at the expense of the other.

The piece in question has a working title of “Professional Misconduct”, although as the story has developed this is no longer an appropriate title.  I need to think of a new title, something to do with second chances, but I’m not stressing it right now. Instead, I’m simply referring to it as “Amy & Will’s Story”.

Amy and Will are the protagonists and I’m finding myself enjoying spending time with them. In the past week I’ve written three chapters – the count is now up to 27 and is rounding the third turn, approaching turn four and heading for home.

This coming week I’ll be in France visiting the in-laws and allowing my little boy to soak up some more of the language. So that means next week will be as low on twitter tweets from me as last week was. It will probably mean that this blog will be low on posts and I hope it means I’ll be able to write another couple of chapters of Amy & Will’s story. We’ll have to wait and see.


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