Happy December!

Sadly, not my wreath. Or my door.
Sadly, not my wreath. Or my door.

Hello, my lovelies!

As the more astute will have already noticed – it’s December. I know I say this every year, but I cannot believe how quickly the last twelve months have flown. It’s been a mix of a year (with plenty of bad stuff in the wider world, for sure), but there have been lots of positives, too, and I certainly have a lot to be thankful for. In fact, I am living a charmed life (something I hate saying as I imagine a giant axe falling to punish me for my happiness/good fortune/smugness) but it’s the truth; I am an exceedingly lucky woman and I am very, very grateful.

I was a wee bit stressed last month with a combination of parental responsibility and book deadline, but I’ve spent the last couple of weeks enjoying the absence of that stress and getting things sorted for Christmas. This has involved Leaving The House, which is most exciting. I’ve been to Edinburgh with my lovely husband for some art-appreciation, Christmas shopping, some beautiful walks and a fancy writerly lunch with the fabulous Clodagh Murphy.

captainamericakiltI also enjoyed a family trip to the cinema to see Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (so much fun!) with a bonus sighting of this Captain America kilt outfit.

Oh, how I love Scotland!

I’ve been working, too, of course, but now I’m going to ramp up and get as much done as possible before the holiday.

I’m taking a small break from fiction to write a book on writing. It’s a combination of everything I’ve learned over the last few years, with tips and advice from top authors I have interviewed on The Worried Writer podcast. Part of me worries ‘who cares what I think?’ but I do feel that I might be able to help other people. Basically, I want other writers who are anxious or filled with self-doubt to think ‘if she can do it, then I can, too!’.

In reading news, I loved Elizabeth Buchan’s The New Mrs Clifton and I’m currently enjoying The Quarry by Iain Banks (it came out a couple of years ago but, as the author passed away and I knew it was the last book from him, I have been saving it).

 

 

 

 

Thank you for reading – and for your support and encouragement this year. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas/holiday and that you will join me again in 2017!

Don’t forget, you can keep in touch by signing up for my free readers club (plus, exclusive content and giveaways!).

 

Weekend round-up: Fun and Geekery

Good morning! Hope you all had a spiffing Bank Holiday Weekend. Since we’re all back to work, I thought I’d distract you with tales of my weekend. I know, I’m too kind…

On Saturday, I headed to Dundee with my daughter to visit the Funk Fair. It was stuffed with vintage and retro pretties but we were very restrained. Okay, some hair slides by Love From Alice jumped into my bag, but they were impossible to resist I tell you. Impossible!

Next, we headed into H&M to get jeans for my girl. She had her first ever ‘trying things on in the shop’ experience which, thankfully, was a pleasant one. Then we stroked the nail polishes in Boots and the stationery in Paperchase and listened to Kasabian loudly in the car on the way home. Having an ‘Oh My Gosh; Eleven Years Old’ daughter isn’t so bad when she is Made Of Awesome.

On Sunday, I got my geek on. We took a family trip to our local cinema to see this:

Joss Whedon is one of my favourite writer/directors and I’d heard good things (thank you Matthew and Alistair!) about this film, so hopes were high. In short, we all loved it. Lots of thrills, in-jokes, cool moments and, above all, laughs. It might be a big-budget commercially-minded film, but it definitely has the Whedon magic.

Plus, yanno, this:

Oh, hullo Thor. I like your… hammer.

On Monday, my lovely parents had the children so that I could write. I’m in first zero draft mode on a new project that I’m super-excited about, so it was brilliant to have a few clear hours to work on it. I also edited a short story and wrote a couple of blog posts, so yay me.

How about you guys?

My Weekend: Puppets, Zombies and Lemon Drizzle Cake

On Saturday the sun was shining and my husband was off gallivanting (climbing a hill) and my favourite daughter was home from her school trip so I donned an apron (yes, really) and did a passable impression of a domestic goddess. I baked flapjacks and lemon drizzle cake, I cleaned and tidied, I hung laundry on the line to dry and I sewed a couple of cushion covers. My mum came round for lunch and board games were played. It was a properly domestic, cosy and delightful day.

In the evening, just to balance things out, we watched Zombieland. I loved it. Woody Harrelson is a very funny man. I will warn you, however, that the first twenty minutes or so  are pretty disgusting. I was starting to worry that it was all going to be a bit too graphic for my delicate sensibilities but I was already through the ‘worst’. Either that, or I just got used to close up shots of zombies spewing blood. Whatever.

It was Mother’s Day in the UK yesterday and I was awoken by my children bearing gifts. Green & Black’s chocolate, a beaded bracelet, homemade cards and… Mummy Puppet. My son made me in puppet form and I couldn’t be happier. I now have a partner in crime and someone to blame when things Go Wrong (“Mummy Puppet did it!”). Plus, as I pointed out to my bemused husband, I will now win any discussion that we put to the vote: Husband = 1 vote, Me = 1 vote, Mummy Puppet = 1 vote. Score.

My daughter tried to rename Mummy Puppet ‘Muppet’, but was vociferously overruled by my son. And, oddly, by Mummy Puppet herself. She’s actually quite strong-minded and, rather creepily, she sounds like Mr Punch. Hmm. She’s looking at me now. Staring, really. With… Intensity. Hold on, while I turn her to face the wall… That’s better.

Friday Five

Photo credit: James Morgan

Okay, so I’ve stolen the idea of ‘Friday Five’ from… Many blogs, probably.
But let’s not dwell on that; let’s get to the linky goodness. Five fabulous distractions for your Friday afternoon:

1. The picture above is from this Guardian article about the Bajau sea nomads. I just found it in my saved links folder (meant to write about it here ages ago) and was captivated all over again by the description and photographs of the Bajau’s way of life.

2. Weird writing habits of famous authors… Should I be worried that none of these seem particularly odd?  

3. I will probably never go to Las Vegas, but if I fall into a portal or win a holiday or something, I will definitely visit the Neon Boneyard; final resting place of ‘retired’ Vegas signage. If you have any interest in retro glamour, design, typography or the unusual, go to idsgn and ogle the pictures.

4. An excellent work-space for a nature writer. [Happiness Is]

5. Word-nerd alert! Mental Floss lists 15 foreign words which have no direct English equivalent. I particularly the last one:

15. Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, grief bacon.

Mmm… Grief bacon. *Drools*

Film News: Gods Behaving Badly

I adored Marie Phillips’ Gods Behaving Badly. It’s funny, smart, satirical and has the clever and fully-realised kind of fantasy world that I dream of writing myself. Like Harry Potter or much of Neil Gaiman’s work, the book is set in our reality but with a twist. It’s a world in which the Greek Gods (having fallen on hard times) live in a house-share in London.

I’d heard that it was being made into a film and today I saw the casting news. And it is awesome. The list includes… Alicia Silverstone, Oliver Platt and the brilliant Edie Falco.

Coen brothers’ favourite John Turturro.

And… Wait for it… Christopher Freaking Walken as Zeus.

Not really a blog post…

Not only am I neck-deep in book revisions, but I have something else going on this week that is keeping me busy (in a happy kind of way, I’m glad to say), which is a long-winded way of saying ‘sorry for the pathetic not-really-a-blog-post’.

For pretty pictures, spring-time inspiration and more crochet than you can shake a hook at, I suggest you visit Attic 24.

And if that doesn’t brighten your day, try this pre-schooler playing ukulele. Yes, I know it’s a couple of years old, but it still has the power to unshrink my black and shrivelled heart. At least for a moment.