07 November, 2012 / News



Agh, I’d intended to write a newsletter far more frequently than this, but three months have flashed by. January was pretty hectic with finishing my forth novel – lots of late nights, and diving to the PC every time the kids settled down to watch the Simpsons. I made my deadline – just. My editor was very positive about the book, which always comes as a huge relief – it’s so nerve-wracking, sending off a manuscript. The instant I’ve pressed ‘send’, or handed it over to the post office lady, I remember some terrible glaring error that I’d meant to fix.

Anyway, the novel isn’t due for publication until March 2008, so I won’t mention the title just yet. And it might change a dozen times anyway as I, my editor and the marketing department battle over our favourites!

We had a local launch for my third novel, Lucky Girl (now out in paperback, see ‘books’ page for its Amazon link). To my relief, plenty of people showed up. I’d brought along my entire family, kids included, and ordered them to run around a lot of the place was deserted. We had a Q&A session, and my kids’ hands shot up – I prayed that they wouldn’t overdo it and take over, but people seemed to enjoy their input. Dex, aged ten, wanted to know what happens to Frankie, the has-been celebrity chef, at the end of the book. He knows, the wee tyke, and just wanted me to give away the ending! I’d been talking about how it’s a good idea to carry a notebook wherever you go for scribbling down ideas. Erin, my six year-old, put up her hand and asked, ‘Why don’t you let me draw in your notebooks?’ My precious Paperchase notebooks? Not a chance, lady…

So now I’m… bookless. There are a few ideas milling around but nothing I’ve started on properly. I feel rather bereft, but it’s been lovely to have some time with the family without feeling harassed. We had a great few days in Pitlochry in the Highlands and are planning to head north again to Dornoch for Easter. I’ve been running with my mate Tania – pounding the country lanes instead of the keyboard. We’re training (I use the term loosely) for the Glasgow women’s 10k, and I hope to pant my way round the half marathon course in the Great Scottish Run in September. Which means going easy on the wine in France this summer. Sort of…

Well, that’s all for this month. Without coming over all blubby, I’d like to say a huge thanks if you’ve bought or read Lucky Girl – I’ve had some lovely feedback, including some glowing reviews in the mags, which is always boosting. It’s the book I’m most proud of so it really means a lot.

Bye for now,

12 February, 2011 / General

My book launch – fancy coming along?

Fancy coming along to the launch of my new book, Mum on the Run? Our lovely local independent bookshop, Atkinson-Pryce, are organising it – tickets are free and available from the shop, or from me.

It’s on Tuesday 22nd February, 8 pm at the Elphinstone Hotel, Biggar. Would be lovely to see you there. I’ll be reading from the book, and it’s meant to be funny, so please laugh (or at least pretend to).

02 February, 2011 / General

Drop Box

Two weeks until my new book, Mum on the Run, is out. Am pretty excited…

30 January, 2011 / General

Bad attitude

I went to a meeting at my sons’ high school the other day. Actually, as this took place after dark – 6.30-9pm – it counted as a night out. I was almost as excited as when I had to go to a nit talk at primary school.

Anyway, this talk was about far more important matters than nits. The first part was about the Curriculum for Excellence, which I know is an entirely new approach to teaching and learning which I should know about and understand. But something happens when I enter Big School. I become twelve again, picking at various bits of my body and tapping my feet impatiently.

Poor head teacher, I keep thinking. He looks absolutely exhausted. I realise, too, that I’m not taking any of it in because I, too, am shattered. It’s like a re-run of some French film J and I watched together the other night. I can’t even remember its name now – see what my brain has become? – and kept asking him, ‘Why is she emailing him if she’s supposed to be dead?’ and ‘Who’s that blonde woman again?’ At which point I spied a think bubble forming above his head with the word DIVORCE in it.

The school meeting’s like that, with the added factor of making me start to feel aggressive whilst grinding my teeth. Head teacher is now talking about how to help our children choose their exam subjects. A woman keeps barking questions from the back, so outraged is she that her child won’t be allowed to study seventeen sciences at once. ‘Why not?’ she keeps bellowing.

‘Because we don’t think children should specialise too early,’ says the beleaguered head teacher.

‘Why not?’ she snaps back.

‘Because we believe in as broad a course as possible at this stage,’ he explains. I can’t believe he’s being so patient. He deserves a knighthood, or the Nobel Peace Prize at the very least. If I were him, I’d yell, ‘BECAUSE WE JUST DO!’ and start swigging from a bottle of gin whilst careering towards her and wrestling her to the ground. Most of the time, I think teaching’s a doddle – same thing year after year with about thirty-five weeks’ holiday thrown in. At moment like this, though, I realise they’re the most underrated people on earth. I’m gnawing my gum, and keep darting furious looks at the woman, but she’s too intent on hijacking the meeting to discuss her gifted offspring to notice.

Two hours into the meeting, I am hunched in my chair, barely conscious, wondering if now might be a good time to re-start smoking or concuss myself by banging my head on the concrete floor. ‘I saw you at that meeting,’ my friend says as we walk our dogs the following morning. ‘You were slumped in your chair and chewing gum.’

‘Was I?’ I ask.

She nods gravely. ‘That’s not the attitude,’ she says.

23 January, 2011 / General

House of shame

Two of my closest friends and I rented a holiday cottage in Yorkshire last October, fancying a mums-and-kids weekend. We have seven children between us, ranging from seven to thirteen years old, so it’s hardly surprising that a few things got broken. The owner was fine, if a little tight-lipped about the cracked screen and smashed lamp. We got off lightly, I thought.

A week or so later he emailed to report that, although we are ‘welcome back any time’, we’ll be expected to pay a £50 final clean charge if we book the house again. ‘We are still finding toy soldiers all over the house,’ he informed me.
You’d think that would be the end of the matter, but today, three months after our visit, I receive another email. ‘I hope you had a good Christmas and New Year,’ he writes. I am nervous already, with my jaw clenched. ‘I’m afraid I come bearing bad news,’ he adds.

Oh dear. Perhaps a lone plastic soldier was left undiscovered and spiked someone’s foot. ‘We have just received our quarterly phone bill for October-December 2010,’ he goes on, ‘and I’m afraid to say that during the three days you stayed at the house, 79 calls to 118118 were made, totaling £167.00!!!’

He uses three exclamation marks. I am sweating at my desk. ‘We provide a phone service free of charge so guests can book activities, restaurants etc whilst they are holidaying here,’ he explains. ‘However, I think you will agree £167 worth of calls over one weekend is a little excessive.’

I email my friends who interrogate their children, as I do mine. Curiously, every child is adamant that it was someone else’s idea to repeatedly call 118118 with jubilant cries of ‘Fat poo stink bum’ etc. Later, once I’ve simmered down, I have a quiet chat with my daughter about who really made the majority of the calls. She says that one of the younger boys was a particularly enthusiastic participant. ‘What did he keep saying to the 118118 lady?’ I ask her.

‘Will you marry me?’ she says.