Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lulu, oh, Lulu!

I am having a very trying afternoon.

I started to work again on my novel-in-paperback through It all seems very straightforward - until you try to do it.

First there's the cover. In my preview it appears fine; in the print-ready version it's lost a bit of a photo.
Then there's the body of the text. At my seventh attempt I've created a PDF file that looks absolutely right, but when I upload it, tell Lulu to make a print-ready version and download it to check, one page of text has been blanked out and, to make it worse, the page replaced by a larger sheet of paper. 
This has happened three times after each time I've tried re-uploading: once to page 18, then to page 6 and latterly to page 150. It's beyond me. It's okay as far as I can tell when it leaves me; it doesn't allow me to check the uploaded version, just gives me the option of downloading again. So something's going wrong either in the upload or download. (I should be an IT expert with that sort of intuition - in fact what would an IT expert say? Turn the computer off and start again?)

Or maybe there's nothing actually wrong: it just ... seems like it. It's an optical illusion brought about by sitting and staring at a screen for too long. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Volunteers wanted

The cleaners from church are on holiday at the moment so last week before I went away I asked in the weekly notices for people to do anything they spotted that needed doing. As examples I mentioned hoovering the hall and replacing toilet rolls. 

When I got into work this morning I discovered 6 spare toilet rolls in the ladies' and an unhoovered floor.

I can't help thinking there must be a sermon in there somewhere. Or a moral at least.

What happens when ...

you forget that you have carrots in maple syrup in the oven.
The gravy in my lamb in red wine casserole was reduced to a splodge too but, strangely enough, it all tasted very nice. The carrots could have been a little less, um, crunchy, but Husband said he liked them that way.

Our lime!

Yes, I know it's yellow but the label on the tree says it's a lime.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The real thing

In the supermarket I said, 'I must have some real Italian Parmigiana.' Then I looked at the price.
'Oh dear, I'd better not.'
But Younger Son said, 'How often will you get the chance of real parmigiana?'
'Okay, you've talked me into it; pick a piece for me.'

It wasn't until we were going through the checkout that I realised that the lump of cheese he'd selected would cost nearly 20 euros. I gulped, hoped Husband wouldn't notice until it was too late, and then reassured myself with the thought that he'd bought 2 bottles of wine for about the same price.

Now all I have to do is restrict myself to grating a little on pasta dishes and not eating it by the chunkful.

Ooh, but it's very good.

Sinner or saint?

On Sunday we were invited to attend the morning service at the church of Santa Albana Stura with Fiancée and her family. 

It was very crowded with people and also full of what Husband calls the smells and bells. Apart from the obvious things - like it being Roman Catholic and in Italian - the service differed from what I would recognise as an Anglican one in that there was a choir of girls and they were the only ones who sang. The songs were jolly and pretty and I'm sure I would have had to join in if I'd known them.

I grew up in an Anglican church so thought I might recognise some bits but I didn't, although I did pick up that the priest was talking about Easter and Palm Sunday. My concerns about having to wear a hat were unfounded, and in fact everyone was quite casually dressed. And all was going well until we came to the communion bit. 

Now let me explain that when I've been in other RC services the priest has offered a blessing to those who can't take communion so I merrily joined the line of people going to the front. I started to get a bit worried as I drew closer as it wasn't the priest proper handing out the wafer. I should have left the queue then really ...
When my turn came the 'priest' had the wafer in his hand before I could bow my head. I shook my head instead and tried to show that I just wanted to be blessed but he continued to proffer the wafer. He had such a nice smile too I was almost tempted to take it but instead I panicked, crossed myself and rushed back to my pew.
I'm afraid the poor man was left thinking that I must be a terrible sinner who thought she could pretend to be in a state of grace but was overcome by guilt at the last moment. He's probably still praying for my tormented soul.

That aside, I enjoyed the service more than I would have expected. It is so very different from what I'm used to, so much more formal and directed, that I thought it would be hard to find God in it. But, needless to say, I was wrong. (I could write a book about all the times I get it wrong.)

When I heard the priest mention Easter I remembered that I'm leading the service in prison on Palm Sunday. I smiled to myself to think of how different again that would be and then I looked at the statue of Jesus at the side of the church. It was one of the traditional poses with his arms outstretched, welcoming, and I realised afresh that it's the same Christ, who calls us to be close to him, in a formal Roman Catholic service in Italy, a liberal evangelical meeting in Linden, a halfway-house in prison and the chaos of Zac's.

But we didn't get a cup of tea afterwards.

Now that's what I call chocolate

The towns were small but it took us a long time to walk through them as I was frequently having to stop and stare in shop windows and gasp longingly.

Piemonte, a region of contrast

Piemonte in northern Italy is an area of great contrasts. Where we stayed it was flat as can be as you can see in this image looking east from Saluzzo. 

Cross the small town and look west and the Alps suddenly spring up out from the flat plain.

A little further to the east is the hilly vine-growing region of Barolo - that's the tiny town you can see between the hills beyond the farmhouse - or should that be vineyard-house? 

The vines were only recognisable because we knew they were vines, if you see what I mean. When we go back in autumn this area will be brought alive by the wonderful shades of the ripened grapes. And the scent of black truffles will be in the air.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

There are a lot of churches in Italy!

We spent a lot of time visiting old churches: there an awful lot of churches in Italy! The first is the one in Santa Albana Stura, which is where Younger Son will marry Fiancée. The village is only small and it has another two churches only slightly smaller than this. I loved this one and its paved area outside. I can imagine it full of excited and happy Italians (and Welsh - oh, and English) come September. 

It reminded me of the television serial of the book about a French village and the decision to erect a public urinal in the main square. I told Husband this; he agreed but also couldn't remember the name of the book. Every car journey and empty-brained moment I had after that I struggled to scrape the name from the depths of my memory. It wasn't until we were passing Swindon on the M4 on the way home yesterday that I suddenly declared, 'Clochemerle!'

Don't you hate it when that happens?

This little village church is the Sanctuary of Vicoforte. It took 300 years to build and has one of the largest elliptical domes in the world. It also must have one of the most ornate interiors.
And it's only a tiny little village!

As you can see from the photos we visited Italy at a quiet time. The area isn't particularly tourist-orientated although plenty of skiers pass through in the winter and the region just to the east is famous for black and white truffles and Barolo and Barbaresco wine. In September, about the time of the wedding, the region really comes alive when there is a cheese and wine and truffle fair.

Just like a native

We had a fab time in Italy, meeting up again with Fiancée's family and seeing the local area of Piemonte. The weather back here was good apparently but we had it even warmer at about 24-26 degrees. If anything marked us out as tourists - and probably British at that - apart from the camera, map and inability to speak Italian, it was that we were wearing t-shirts while the natives were still in jumpers, coats, boots and scarves. Fiancée's parents said it was still cold for them - and they experienced temperatures of -20 during last winter.

That said, Italian women have made scarf-wearing an art form. When I try to emulate them I look as though I managed to get out the house before my mum could make sure I was dressed properly.

Yes, that's snow. We took a trip up into the nearby Alps, to just beyond Limone. We would have gone higher but the road was still being skied across although there wasn't much snow left; it's been a short season apparently.
Younger Son celebrated his birthday the day we left. That's him with Fiancée and her brother.

Lots more about our Italian trip to follow but we have to go and get the fish back now.

How on earth could I gain 4lbs in a week?!

It couldn't possibly have been the nutella on toast for breakfast each day or my daily ice cream.

It can't have been the 18 course wedding taster feast (some dishes shown below), the birthday dinner or the day travelling where we lived on chocolate, cakes and crisps.

So it must have been the water. I drank lots of water because it was so warm. That must explain my weight gain.

P.S. I'm not the only one: George has come back from kennels a little podge. We keep telling him he's supposed to pine and lose weight but he listens to his stomach not us.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I bet Jesus makes brilliant shadow puppets

Stewie last night at Zac's said, 'He's just really nice, isn't he?'
He was talking about Jesus and in those few simple words encapsulated the saviour, lord and creator of the world.

Yes, Jesus is really nice. Children were amongst the crowds following him and he encouraged them, cuddled them and blessed them. Children are good judges of character. They don't bother with men who talk to other adults over their heads but they do like those who play peek-a-boo or make silly faces.

Can't you just imagine Jesus after an intense discussion with a Pharisee getting down on his knees and having a serious chat with a four-year-old about the beetle he's just found? And letting the child tell him, who made the bug, all about it.

Taking an interest, encouraging, teaching, blessing. Sounds good to me.

Ciao, baby

Had a minor meltdown yesterday when I realised we're off to Italy tomorrow. Italy: land of elegant women and haute couture, and I don't have a thing to wear!

I remedied that with a shopping trip this morning. I'm not a good clothes shopper though. I know what I like - and none of the shops sell exactly it. So I buy second-best and get home and realise that I don't have shoes to wear with it. Or a coat. But it's going to be nice weather isn't it?

And we're going to a Roman Catholic service on Sunday morning: will I need a hat? Maybe I should take my woolly pompom hat.

My panic earlier in the week was allayed by Younger Son who reassured me that they do have proper toilets in Italy. 'Even in the non-touristy remoter bits?'
'Yes ... except for one restaurant we went to in the hills that had a hole in the ground.'

So it'll be fine. I know it will and we'll have a lovely time eating and sightseeing and eating and failing to talk Italian and did I mention eating?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's on its way

My book is currently, even as I type, being uploaded to Lulu in preparation for the paperback version. I explored other methods of printing including Troubador, which was recommended. It appeared to offer a very good service and I'm sure the quality would be excellent - and better than Lulu - but the books would have ended up costing £10 just to print and I don't think many people will buy a paperback at £10+.
While I'm not looking to make money from my book - I just want to get it out there and being read - I do want to make it accessible at least cost to me!

The other main option I looked at was Createspace, which is Amazon's print version, but as I think I explained before, as far as I could tell, books were printed in America - adding to costs - and there was an enormously complicated tax form to complete. 

Okay, it's uploaded and now it's telling me to download and review ... I guess it knows what it's doing. Yip, it looks much the same as it did when I uploaded it. Whoops, except it finished at page 62 instead of 245.

Second attempt: only as far as page 60. Strange because it says it's uploaded all the pages and there's nothing to indicate that you're only going to see a sample. Never mind, I'll carry on for now with the cover.

Slightly distracted having had an email from the Kidwell-e Festival checking I'm still available and suggesting a reading from my novel rather than a talk, which suits me fine!

Got to go ice a cake now ...

Feeling old

I'd lost a pound in slimming class this week. Cherie, our teacher, says she loves watching me doing jumping jacks because I do them with a big smile on my face. I told her it's only to take my mind off the pain. 
Another slimmer said she thought I was skinny. When I told Husband this he asked, 'Did she have a white stick?'

I'm cutting him out of my will. I told him I want to rewrite my will so I can write my sons out. He said, 'You did that last year.'
(Not really.) (No point, I don't have anything to leave.)

I'm not skinny, by the way. I'm okay but have a wodge of fat around my middle and on my hips. It's a middle-aged woman thing I'd like to believe. As protection for your hips that are about to start crumbling.

I usually grumble about my eyesight getting worse. It seems unfair that I can exercise and tone up my other muscles (to a certain extent) but not my eyes. The optician said that's because it's not muscle; it's due to hardening of the bendy bit at the back. But today when I was exfoliating my chin I put on my glasses - to help me see what I was doing - and looking at my face, in close-up with my glasses on, is not something to engender confidence and assurance. I decided it's quite kind of God to decrease our seeing ability. Some of us would never leave the house if we could see properly.

But I can't blame not seeing for the fact that I put face-wash on my hair in the shower. That was just because I was thinking about other things. (Whoever said women can multi-task hadn't met me.) Which wouldn't have mattered if it hadn't been the last bit in the tube. Still it would have been worse if I'd washed my face with shampoo. We all know what shampoo does to mice. Or perhaps it doesn't any more thanks to the sacrifice of many brave mice.

I'm rabbiting, otherwise known as procrastinating. I have to get back to Lulu ...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A First!

Late-afternoon Husband asked what time we would be eating dinner. I told him 6.45. At 6.44 I called him to carve the chicken. Such perfect timing happens only rarely in our household. Timing of any sort let alone perfect is hard to come by. Just ask my children.

My beautiful Mothers' Day flowers from Daughter and family.

They're from a company called wiggly flowers who recommend, to prolong their life, adding a mixture of sugar, vinegar and bleach to the water. I haven't done so yet ...

So how was your day?

We had a very good speaker in church this morning. The fact that I used the time to plan the birthday cake I'm going to make on Tuesday was down to me and my personal preferences for a Sunday morning talk. (Although the fact sheets where we had to fill in the missing words when we were told to might not have helped.)

Mothers' Day and no cards. I'm not talking to my sons. I did have a lovely bunch of flowers from Daughter though so not totally forgotten. And all the ladies in church were given a daffodil with a bible verse attached. Mine was Proverbs 31:10-31.
I've just looked that up to find it's the bit about the Wife of Noble Character. Ladies, if you've never read this passage, don't. It'll give you a complex for life. Talk about Mrs Perfect.

I stood up in church too this morning and asked for volunteers for prison work. At one point I seem to recall comparing myself to Mother Teresa. I must start taking the tablets again ...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Etched with love

Last Tuesday's was the most chaotic night we've had in bible study at Zac's for a while - and also the most insightful.

We had four 'guests', men who are often there on Thursdays for coffee bar but not usually for the study. They were quite vocal and it looked as though Sean might struggle to get anything out of the evening. We continued our study of the book of Mark and the verses we read were the ones about the disciples arguing over who was the most important, where Jesus says, 'Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last and servant of all.'  
Sean linked it with the verses in Matthew chapter 25:
'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit.'
'... whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me.'

So I was feeling pretty righteous at this point: hey, I do some of that. And, what's more, one of the guests had recognised me. He said, 'I've seen you in prison. You're an angel.' (The glare you're getting from your screen is light bouncing off my halo.)

Then the same one, the 'friend' who recognised me, said, 'We're the lowest of the low, but I can still do the best thing for anybody. I can lead them to faith in Jesus.'

Well, you could have knocked me off my chair - if I'd been sitting on one - with a currant bun. 

There were other words of wisdom being spoken too but I was too much in shock to recall them all. I don't know why I was surprised: the rough sleepers, odd bods and downright eccentric characters frequently astound me and bring me back to a sense of reality. What's real and true and important.

Our guests could turn on each other or someone else in an instant. One wrong word, one misunderstood look and it's a foul mouthful at best, violence at worst. But there's a camaraderie, a sense of looking-out-for-each-other, that is sadly too often lacking from most of 'civilised' society. 

Tomorrow when he's out of his head on something, my 'friend' may seem to have forgotten who Jesus is but Jesus won't forget him. His name is engraved on the palm of God's hand. 

It is not wind!

Oh flip, I've been useless with my Lenten discipline this year but I have been busy with the ebook - and away. We've just come back from Devon and he might be less than 4 weeks old but don't try and tell me that's not a proper smile he's giving his granny!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Should have stayed in bed

So I put the oven on to heat up while I prepared the cake. Soon a familiar smell wafted from it. Yes, the meatballs were still in there.

Too late i.e. they were too warm, to risk getting food poisoning so I'm having to cook them now and we'll have them reheated for dinner tonight. I am beginning to wish I'd never bought these flipping meatballs.

'Should you cook sponge cake the same time as meatballs?' Husband asked. 'Won't the cake taste of the meat sauce?'
'I don't bleeping care if it does.'

And I dropped an egg that splattered all over the floor. I should not have got up this week. It's bad even by my standards.

And it just got worse: I took the sponge cakes out of the oven.
Trust me when I tell you I am renowned for my cake-making!

Rosemary beckons

I'm plucking up my courage and going back to slimming class this morning.

My weight has gradually been creeping up so I need to get a grip before there's too much to grip! I want to lose about half a stone - again - and I've concluded I can't do it without the incentive/threat of a weekly public weigh-in.

The class is fun actually, combining a short informative chat with exercise, and it's only because it's been such a long time since I last went that I face it with such dread. We usually do Riverdance around St. Patrick's day and I love that!

Then it's back to make my diabetic cake-making.

the sound you hear is me hitting my head against a brick wall

Once again my organisational skills have impressed me.

On Saturday at the butcher's I bought enough meat for three meals including last night's meatballs. Husband and  I go to circuit training on a Monday evening so I made the sauce and put the meatballs in the oven before setting the automatic cooker to come on.
Got home from class expecting to be greeted by the delicious smell of ready-cooked meatballs but it was sadly lacking. I opened the oven door and the dish was barely warm so I concluded I'd set it wrongly and it had switched off too soon. I banged my head against a kitchen cupboard, turned off the automatic setting and put the oven on. Husband only grumbled a little so I told him to go and take a slow shower.
I showered and after about half an hour wandered back to see how it was doing: the oven was no hotter than it had been before. This didn't look good. I checked all the settings and everything seemed to be in order - except for the fact that the oven wasn't hot. 
The good thing was that I could now tell Husband it wasn't my fault but that the cooker wasn't working.

Husband came down and I broke the bad news to him. He looked at the cooker and said, 'You've got the wrong oven on.'

Monday, March 12, 2012

In the genes

I told Daughter that Younger Son is getting glasses.
'For his eyes?' she said.

She has an excuse: post-baby hormonal chaos. Which doesn't explain why I made a pot of tea without a teabag.

A cake without sugar

I have been asked - nay, instructed - by one of the Zac's regulars to make her a diabetic birthday cake this week. She said, 'Just make me a sponge using sweetener and a little bit of jam,' so I've bought that but not content I thought I'd do a bit of googling for diabetic recipes. Most seem to be on American sites and I don't like the cup measurements and some of them sound a bit dubious anyway. So I'll try what she suggested (and make some cookies for everyone else as well in case the cake is a disaster!) But browsing led me to the 'best diabetic birthday cake ever' courtesy of Diabetically Mind Numbing.

I love it!

On air

The interview went fine until I tried to find my way out of the studio and ended up in the toilet.I was about to try the fire door when alarm bells rang - but only in my head fortunately. But apart from that - and going suddenly blank on the name of the man interviewing me - all went well.

Today local radio, tomorrow ... 

Oh and by the way, did I mention that you can buy This Time Next Year on Amazon?!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My life in song and pictures

I loved Elvis even before I loved the Beatles. I still think he's fabulous. This isn't his best song but it's another opportunity to see me and Younger Son embarrass ourselves.

Imbecile or idiot?

I said to Husband that I was getting a little nervous about my interview on local radio tomorrow. He said, 'You'll be fine. Just relax and talk normally. But don't be like you were on television!'

A few years ago I was on BBC national breakfast television. I'd prepared answers to the questions they said they'd be asking me but then they asked different ones. When I get flustered I talk quickly, can't think of words and get other words tangled - actually I'm like that when I speak normally as I'm so scared of boring people - so, when answering, I made a deliberate attempt to stop and think about what I wanted to say and frame the sentence properly. Hence Husband's words to me afterwards, 'You sounded mentally-challenged.' (The words he actually used are probably non-pc.)

So my choice for tomorrow: do I go for slow-witted imbecile or gibbering idiot? Both come quite easily to me.

My life in song and pictures (yesterday's)

As Wales played Italy yesterday afternoon I tried to think of an Italian sort of song for my choice but the best I could come up with was 'Bangers and mash! Rigatoni!' But that led me to Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren singing, 'Goodness, gracious me.' 

I noticed there were comments on the youtube pages about this being incredibly racist so, though it was a song from my childhood and one I can sing now at the rise of a pulse rate, I decided against it. (And the youtube clips weren't brilliant.) But Peter Sellers remained in my mind and I remembered - vaguely - the excitement in 1961 when he and Britt Ekland were in Swansea for the filming of Only Two Can Play. The film is based on That Uncertain Feeling by Kingsley Amis who taught at Swansea University for a time.

I certainly recall watching the film mainly for the 'Oh, that's constitution hill, that's the library,' thrill. You only to get to see the outside of Swansea library; the inside is a set. Incidentally the old Swansea Library is now an arts centre and we have a fabulous new one on the sea front, which makes up in airiness what it lacks in grandeur.

This was the only clip I could find from the film and could well be considered racist as instead of a Pakistani accent Sellers adopts a Welsh one - although the two are often interchangeable!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Wales and Italy

Not a brilliant game of rugby but we won convincingly in the end in spite of great defence by Italy. Neext week we take on Italy in what could be the Grand Slam winning game. I will be too tense for words.

(Which reminds me of something i read on Mrs N's Facebook: The past, the future and the present walked into a bar. It was tense.)

And the week after that we're off to Italy for our pre-wedding jaunt to see the area, the church and to go along with the young couple and Fiancée's parents to the tasting of the planned reception food. It's hard work but someone has to do it.

Almost first comment!

"I downloaded the sample of your book not the whole thing. Went to bed last night and read the sample, almost had an accident which would have necessitated a change of sheets, and immediately bought the whole thing. Slept happy!"

Thank you, Judith!

Lay a little egg for me

Husband set off up the tree with his chainsaw again yesterday only to come face to face with 4 tiny fluffy chicks in a nest. He thinks they're wood pigeons and, apparently, they usually have three broods between April and June, so I guess that tree's not going to be chopped down any time before autumn.

He found some other trees to brutally decimate instead, you'll be pleased to hear.

Friday, March 09, 2012

My life in song and pictures

As a child Saturday mornings meant one thing to me: Children's Favourites with Uncle Mac on the radio. So it was a toss-up today between The Ugly Duckling, Sparky's Magic Piano and, the one I finally chose, The Laughing Policeman.

My great-uncle and grandfather both worked at Mumbles pier and I spent a lot of time there. My favourite thing in the arcade was a laughing drunken sailor. Thinking about it, it might not have been a sailor. I've just googled it and the closest thing I can come up with is this Drunkard's Dream machine, which I think it quite possibly was.

Which is a very strange thing to like ...

And now I don't think he laughed either. So it bears no relevance to my musical choice. But quite interesting (to me) anyway.

I'm beginning to think a psychiatrist may have a field day with my choices.

Pride comes before a fall

The pride
I put Moroccan lamb on to slow cook before I went to work this morning. I was so impressed with myself: it's perhaps the third time in my life I've managed to be so organised.

The fall
I'm sitting in work wondering why it smells like a casbah, then I realise it's me. (Although I don't know what a casbah smells like, the smell is as I imagine it would be.)
I touch my lip and suddenly I'm on fire, the result of cutting up chillies and not washing my hands eight times afterwards.

An apology

I've received an email reprimanding me for sending out spam. If you were offended by my invitation to my book launch, I apologise.

With the exception of one woman, for whom I write professionally, the people I emailed an invite to were those I considered friends so I'm very sorry if I upset you. (Although you're probably not reading this if you're annoyed.)

I shall be more careful in future.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Read all about it

Here's the official blurb for This Time Next Year:

When her decree absolute arrives in the post with her 50th birthday cards Alison Turner wonders if life can get any worse.
When the highlights of the last year include being told off by the plumber for ‘putting feminine items of hygiene down the lavatory’, and her husband leaving her for a 28-year-old ‘bimbo’, it’s easy to understand why Alison exclaims in her diary, ‘I do not want another year like that. I must get a new plumber.’
But if the romantic aspect of Alison’s life leaves a lot to be desired (including sex, which is something both her parents and her daughter appear to be enjoying) the everyday aspect is full of incident.
In a year of well-intentioned ineptitude, Alison is thrown out of a pub for the first time in her life, begins to diet eight times (at least), finds out twelve unappealing things about dogs and discovers that first impressions can sometimes be misleading.

P.S. I asked Husband if he was going to read my novel. He said, 'No, it's not my sort of book.' And he wonders why I'm on internet dating sites. Oh, no, wait, that's not me; that's Alison.
P.P.S. Husband was a long time at the DIY shop yesterday so I foolishly imagined he'd stopped on the way back to buy me flowers or chocolate to celebrate publication. We've been married 33 years so you'd think I'd know better by now.
He's taking me out to dinner this evening instead (my suggestion/command).
P.P.P.S. And I have my first radio interview booked! 

Welcome to the launch!

Welcome to the launch of my first novel and eBook, This Time Next Year!
Thank you for joining me. Please enjoy a slice of cake
and a glass of champagne - a glass of lemonade or a nice cup of tea are also available if you prefer - 
while I read a few short extracts from This Time Next Year.

If you enjoyed these extracts and you'd like to buy this eBook it's available on Amazon. That's the UK site but it's also available on

If you don't have a Kindle, don't worry! You can download kindle-reading software for your computer or mobile device FREE from Amazon.

If you enjoy  This Time Next Year , please tell your friends! 
And please consider writing a short review on Amazon. 
If you don't enjoy it, I'm sorry!

Thank you for spending time with me and for your support!

My life in song and pictures

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Please come!

Please join me here, on my blog, any time tomorrow, to celebrate the launch of my first ebook, This Time Next Year. Dress optional.

Full details of how to get it etc will be available as will virtual cake and champagne. (If you'd been in Zac's last night you could have sampled the real cake!)

And here's a taster:

I am a fifty year old divorcee with a hangover. I might as well go the whole hog, bleach my hair, buy a black leather mini skirt and hang round dimly-lit bars.
John Morris, my favourite client, an old gent with old-fashioned manners, who always pays me a compliment, came in this morning. He looked me up and down and said, ‘You look different this morning, my dear. I hope you’re not going down with something.’
I was tempted to tell him it’s too late, I have already succumbed. I am old and unloved.

My life in song and pictures

Today's choice is a song I'd never heard before today and I've chosen it just because of the title: This Time Next Year. Having said that it's a pretty good song!

My novel, although not finally named until a few weeks ago, has been a part of my life for nearly 10 years. That's a huge amount of time to invest in something so excuse me if I'm a little over-excited and boring.

Writing it was the comparatively easy part; trying to get it published was the impossibly difficult and depressing bit. I've sent it to more agents than you'd think there'd be work for. I've come close, I've changed the style, I've bent over backwards to do everything that the how-to books and articles recommend, but no-one felt strongly enough about it to take it on.

I've been up, I've been down, I've been, 'That's it, it's going in the drawer for ever!' Then a few weeks ago Elder Son sent me an article he'd read about self-publishing an eBook and the rest is history. Although it's not; the rest is to come.

The promotion, the marketing, what will undoubtedly be the continuing ups and downs as people do or don't buy my book, as reviews rate it the best thing since Bridget Jones, or the worst since the last worst book they read, all lie ahead of me. 
But for today, I'm a happy bunny.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

My life in song and pictures

Something to calm the soul.

In the system!

The Amazon kindle publishing system that is! Whoop, whoop!

Need to take several long slow deep breaths now. Be calm, all is well. All will be well. Anyway there's still a chance to change it if it's wrong. I think.

Oh poops! Now I'm panicking. 

But what could be wrong? I've checked, double-checked and millioniddle-checked. It'll be fine. Don't panic.

Keep calm and have a cup of tea.

My plan

Right, I've worked out what to do. 

When I began my intention was to publish an eBook. Then I decided I should do a print version as well and that's where the trouble started. I was constantly leaping between e and print and finding difficulties everywhere. Focus. I need to focus. If only because I need to get my brain back on the same planet as the rest of my body. I was about to turn off the shower last night when I couldn't remember if I'd just got in or if I was getting out.

So I'm going to concentrate again on the eBook. I will do a print version but later on. 
And I've made a list! Organised or what?

To sleep perchance to ... not wake up

So last night instead of switching it off I sent the computer to sleep; this morning it wouldn't wake up.
I said to Husband, 'Can we take it to the puta doctor?'
He said, 'No.'
'Why not?'
'I want to fix it.'
'How are you going to do that?'
'I'm going to lie it on its side.'

It's hard to believe that Husband spent all his working life in IT. The last 2 years of retirement have obviously taken their toll.

P.S. It woke up when Husband spoke nicely to it.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Today I blame the trustees

I am beginning to think this book will never get published! was recommended for print self-publishing. It's part of Amazon but it seems to me that everything is done in America. So I have to fill in really complicated forms to avoid paying US tax - I can't even understand the page that supposed to explain what you have to do - and books are printed in the US, which is not ideal for lots of reasons. There might be an British version but I can't find it.

So I pop over to At least this is in English but that's where the easyness stops. 

Perhaps I'm just tired and nothing is making sense; perhaps it will all look better in the morning.

I was hoping to launch the eBook this week and I might still do that depending how enthused I get tomorrow.

And don't get me started on isbns ...

Truth of the matter is I have circuits tonight and then I have to go straight to take notes at a trustee meeting, meaning I'm in a bad mood. And possibly hungry. Yes, I think a little something is what I need.

Simple is sometimes best

I left Husband 'looking at' my computer this morning when I went to work. 
When I came home he was still 'looking at' it. 
His conclusion:
'The problem happens when you try and switch it on so don't turn it off.'

Sunday, March 04, 2012

No more Prince of Wales!

There's a new series on BBC called The Story of Wales. Beginning with the Red Lady of Paviland Cave (oldest human remains found in Britain) it looks at how Wales as we know it has taken shape. And I have to say that, after episode 2, I understand why I have, somewhere etched in my soul, a distrust of the English, and why I'm ready to start a rebellion against the title of Prince of Wales. 

The word, prince, has Latin origins, meaning the principal leader, and was used by the big Chief amongst the regional leaders. After Llywellyn the Last, the first and only constitutionally-recognised native Prince of Wales, was killed the English king Edward I's control over Wales grew. He named his son as Prince of Wales, from where tradition of giving the title to the monarch's eldest son continues.

In 1969 there was a great ceremony in Caernarfon Castle (Edward I's stronghold) for the investiture of Charles as prince of Wales. I was 17 then, ignorant of politics, and simply enjoying an extra day off school. 

If the day comes when Charles becomes king and William is invested as Prince of Wales, I shall be there amongst the protesters. Let Charles be our last English Prince of Wales!

Novel ideas

I've had a very positive response again from the Kidwell-e festival organisers. Looks like I shall be doing my bit there in the summer. Which is ages off. No need to panic at all.

I still haven't decided when to launch my eBook, This Time Next Year. It depends on a number of things but I don't want it to be too long as potential readers may lose interest. 

I've had lots of other promotion ideas - such as printing out the first chapter to give away as a sample to interested people, and things like asking WIs if they'd be interested in me as a speaker. Oh yes, and republishing my old books as ebooks. I have to check my contract but I'm sure I'll be able to do that.

A long car journey is useful for thinking, don't you know?

Our big almost-English boy

GrandSon1 is 8 months old today! How quickly the time has gone and how he has grown.

We saw him about a month ago but he's changed loads since then. He's crawling for a start, and climbing and trying to pull himself up. And he loves his food, and he's sleeping much better. He's just about perfect in fact.

But even his face seems to have changed since we saw him. He's begun the process of going from baby to toddler and is absolutely delicious. 

The only problem is ... he cries when he sees his granny! 

By the time we left he was laughing and reasonably happy to be near me (as long as mum or dad were close at hand) but I couldn't have any cuddles ...

The only solution seems to be that we must go and visit more often!

My life in song and pictures

Jules, our trainer, commented last week that he's been taking these circuit training classes now for 10 years, which means I've been doing circuits for at least 9 years. For a number of years I was doing 2 classes a week and I must be fitter than I was even though it's not apparent to me sometimes!

Way back when, I bought the Jane Fonda workout LP, in an attempt to get fit. My enthusiasm for that didn't last long. It's much easier to exercise when you pay for a class, you're committed to going and you have a set time for it. Trying to fit in a bit of exercise here and there just doesn't work for me; I'm not disciplined enough.

Anyway, today's song is one of those that Ms Fonda included on her LP and it made a lasting impression on me: I can't hear it without clenching my buttocks.

My life in song and pictures (Saturday)

The Boss. Need I say more?

Why I'm missing posts

Excuse no. 1: We've been away for the weekend.
Excuse no. 2: My puta has died. Waaaahhhh!

I'm currently on Younger Son's computer, which is fine and dandy for internetting but has none of my novel stuff on it. 
Last time shaking my puta did the trick but even that has failed this time. (Elder Son, whom we've been visiting, suggested my shaking might have something to do with the problem but I don't make a habit of shaking it, only doing so when necessary.)

Husband is going to see if there's a loose connection tomorrow. He might look at the computer too ...

Friday, March 02, 2012

My life in song and pictures

The news of the death of Davy Jones has given me my choice of song for today. I loved the Monkees show and Davy in particular.

Learn from my mistakes

Had a very speedy response from Kidwell-e expressing possible interest and have replied offering to do either a reading or give a talk. I suggested the talk could be entitled 'Learn from my mistakes (when self-publishing an ebook)'. 

I'm not sure if they're having authors just doing readings, which I would prefer, hence my rather rash offer to do a talk. But, hey, the festival isn't until July so there's no need to panic yet. I can be calmly confident until I have to think about what I've committed to. Assuming they want me of course. And who wouldn't? (See, I'm on an upbeat day today!)

But I'm sure I'll have plenty of mistakes to talk about ...

I've now emailed the Roy Noble Show on BBC Radio Wales. They have a regular section on books by Welsh or Wales-based authors so I've asked if I can be interviewed or my book can be read. It's so easy to offer to do these things by email! It's when they come back and say come and talk on air tomorrow to hundreds of people that I'll throw the wobbly. 

And they will. Maybe. I'm emailing our local radio station too. I've been on one of the shows there before when I read the prisoners' psalm so I'll contact that presenter. He does an early morning show every weekday. I could offer to give a book prize maybe. 

I need to investigate print on demand some more too. So much to do, so little time!

Thursday, March 01, 2012


One of the useful bits of info that Ann passed on to me this morning was that Kidwelly is holding its inaugural literary festival in July, and it's a literary festival with a difference: it's focussing on ebooks.

The Kidwell-e Festival website invites authors to do readings or question and answer sessions so I've emailed them to volunteer my services. I shall let you know what they say.

The main thing on my mind today is my blurb. I think it's harder writing a blurb than it was the book. In only a few paragraphs I have to capture the essence of the book and make potential readers want to read it. I've emailed my effort to Daughter, who is, after all, a professional copywriter. I should be making use of her expertise! (If she has time in between baby feeding.)

Once that is done I shall be just about ready to upload and prepare for lift-off.

I blame my t-shirt

I'm wearing my stripey t-shirt and it's making me feel fat. That makes me depressed and when I'm depressed I want to eat sweet things. And that makes me fat and that makes me depressed.

So the answer is: change my t-shirt.

Man's empty praise

After I put up yesterday's Lenten post (Be Thou my Vision) I was singing the song all day long - you know how it is when you get a song in your head. But there's one line I sing half-heartedly.

'Riches I need not
Nor man's empty praise'

Riches I need not. Thanks to God and a hard-working husband I have far more than I need.
But man's empty praise? 

Oh yes, I need that. I know I shouldn't. But I do. I need affirmation that I'm doing a good job, that I'm not  useless, that my work - my life - is appreciated, that I am an okay person. It's all very well knowing God loves me and values me just as I am but he doesn't actually say so in words that I can understand. It's true that he demonstrates his love in many ways but I want, need, to hear the words, 'Gosh, that's good.' (Would God say gosh? I suppose if he's omniscient it must take some of the fun out of life, never being surprised.)

Nick has a post on his blog about women needing to wear make-up and I was about to defend myself when I realised I do need to wear make-up to make me feel good about myself, which in turn gives me confidence.
I should feel good about myself; I should have confidence in who I am. But I need a little - a lot - extra.

I suppose I think my personality is pretty pathetic so I need all the help I can get. It's one thing knowing the facts, it's quite another to have the strength to live them out.

Then again if someone does say something nice to me I tend to think:
a) he/she's obliged to say that;
b) it's not really true;
c) 'I wish you wouldn't say nice things to me; it makes me uncomfortable,' (because of a and b).

How did I get here? Meandering maudlin thoughts. It's still a fab song though. Nigel in church, who plays a digeridoo, usually does the lead-in bit from where it builds up. 

Books wot I have written

Ann and I were agreeing how hard it is to 'big yourself up'. I can read a bit of my book one day and think, 'This is good'; I can read it again the next day and decide, 'This is rubbish! How can I think of putting this out there for others to read? What will they think of me?!'
So to encourage and remind myself that I can write even when I doubt it I thought I'd post a photo of 'my books'. Not entirely my books - except for Dear God - but my name is on or in them.
Starting at the left, Mama's Baby (Papa's Maybe) and The Woman Who Loved Cucumbers are both collections of short stories by Welsh writers (or writers who live in Wales) and I've a story in each.
The two in the middle are all my own work even though A Cop for Christ suggests Mike DiSanza is the author. (It's his story but I ghost-wrote it.) (And I notice now available in kindle format.)
The two on the right, Generation Gap and Zero In, I wrote jointly with Daughter. 

None of this means that my new novel, This Time Next Year, is any good of course! 

Swapping notes

I met an old friend for coffee this morning. Ann Thomas is a fellow author who's about to self-publish so we met up to swap notes - although Ann did most of the giving! She gave me loads of useful tips and websites and so on.

Ann's self-publishing, and having printed locally, a history book about Alina, the White Lady of Oystermouth Castle. Her publication date is 6th April, Good Friday, the day the castle re-opens for the summer. 

She's done so much research both into the history of Alina, obviously, but also into all aspects of publishing and promoting. I am very impressed! (If not a little daunted!)

My life in song and pictures

I've never seen the film but this a song I frequently sing, especially on days like we've had recently when Spring is in the air.