Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Loop the Loop

I coped all right when my first grandad died, a few weeks ago. But the cumulative effect means that I am managing a little less well now that my other grandfather has gone. He was 100 years old and died peacefully on Saturday afternoon. I'll write properly about him soon, I hope.

Life's a little difficult right now. There's the new job, the bereavements, the ongoing infirmity of our ageing dog (featured here, looking remarkably well), some other stresses and strains, my knee is infected (I fell over and cut myself on a mountain rock) and then there's parenthood.

I love my kids, enormously. They are beautiful and clever and gentle and sweet. But one of them is a toddler and the other is an 8-yr-old and it is hard to keep them both happy at the same time. And I am a woman of extremes, so when I am with them they get so much of me that I can't cope with giving any of me to anything else. Which is not a practical or realistic way to exist. And I can't bear to hear them cry. Toddlers cry quite a lot.

So, the summer has been a bit of a strain. I have spent more time with my two boys than I normally do, and I have become very tired. I am 41 years old. I am a naturally energetic person, but children are tiring and my bones are old. Ish. OK, I am less than half the age that my grandfather reached, so it is silly to talk of being old. I still feel it.

So, I've been fretting and stewing and miserabling and struggling to relax, or to make the most of things I should have found enjoyable.

This afternoon my two sons and I visited the Manchester Museum. But first we went to the doctor, who pronounced my knee infected and sent me with an "urgent" note to a clinic that couldn't fit me in. We then got on a bus, which was a bit of a faff. One of the main corridors in the museum - which we had to pass several times to reach the lift - contained several prominently-displayed corpses (Egyptian mummies). These were pronounced "scary" and resulted in an increasingly-heavy two-yr-old demanding to be carried every time we walked past. Both children enjoyed the stuffed animals, the live frogs, the colourful insects and the dinosaurs. By the end of it all, I was knackered.

And then we walked outside. There is an installation in the courtyard called the "Reflective Room".

My 8-yr-old had bought a polystyrene aeroplane for 50p in the museum gift shop. His brother had one too. They were happy for well over an hour, launching their planes from various different locations and performing a series of impressive stunts. I just sat in the installation and marvelled at the sky, which was blue, and the roofs, which were red. It was a very comfy installation.

I ambled back into the cafe for a coffee, accompanied by an excited 2-yr-old. We went back out into the sun. We bought more planes. Another family appeared, and we donated one of our aircraft, which made their children very happy.

It was one of those spontaneous outbreaks of peace. My 8-yr-old suggested that maybe his dad would look after him and his brother one weekend and I could come back, to sit there and read a book. He's considerate like that.

We had to go in the end. The museum had closed long ago and the little one needed a nap, but we were all content.

It's hard to exist and let things be. When you do, it's magical.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Him Indoors

By the way I should have said, it was that other half of mine that wrote, directed, edited and generally masterminded the Beast of Birker Fell, not to mention conceived it as a way of entertaining bored youngsters on a rainy day. He also did the whole thing in about ten minutes flat (all right so I exaggerate, but only a bit). He very clever.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

What I Did on my Holidays

This is good too!

It is on YouTube!


OMg OMG OMG, will i be FAMOUS?

The Beast of Birker Fell

(by the way: You have to watch the very last second of the credits, because the monster's final facial expression is classic.)


This is really really good. Everybody watch it NOW.

A film about a shell with feet

Because I said so.

Come in Number Six, Your Time is up

Megan has been writing here about feminine maintenance and her own slap-dash attitude to it, and that reminded me of similar musings I was having today on a bus.

When I was a teenager, there was a brief period when I did at least try to read and understand the articles in Jackie magazine. Like Megan, I became aware that everybody is supposed to have a particular face shape, but could never work out what mine was, or what I was supposed to do about it. I managed to get to grips with eyeshadow and eyeliner, but lipstick and foundation and hair always went a bit wrong. I made a few vague attempts to master them, but mostly failed. I suppose these skills are supposed to come from mothers and sisters, but my mother was brought up in the countryside and educated by nuns and was far more interested in books anyway, and my sister made a point of looking the other way whenever I came near.

I didn't care much anyway. I liked myself for who I was, I had long ago accepted that I didn't fit in and was already starting to relish it. It wasn't long before I decided I was a lesbian, shaved my hair off and gave up on make up altogether.

But I had this vague idea that anyone could be beautiful, and one day I would get around to it too. I had a good figure, good skin and glossy hair. My chin, nose and ears were all too big, but a clever haircut and some cunning make up, a bit of attitude, a bit of style... were all I needed. And one day I would find them. Maybe I would go into a department store and get one of those make up girls to teach me about make up. Except that they all applied their own with a spade and looked universally dreadful. Or maybe I would find a book to teach me, or get a girlfriend who would take me under her wing. Maybe there would be a wedding day. Women always look beautiful on their wedding days. I'm not sure how, but maybe I would have a wedding and learn some lessons. Except I couldn't / can't be bothered with all that, and neither can my non-husband.

It was never a priority, I never got round to it, and now it's too late. The things that are wrong with me are permanent. Saggy, wrinkly, greying, fat, drawn, tired, haggard...

Yesterday the checkout man had a conversation with my 2-yr-old son about his nan. He meant me. It's not the first time it's happened.

OK, so hair can be dyed and weight can be lost... but the same problem exists as always did. I don't care enough. Hair dye only works if you reapply every time the roots come back, and I'm never going to be that on-the-ball. The idea of wasting my precious time on tedious beauty routines irks me. I don't even moisturise. Shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, eyeliner and mascara are the only items in my spongebag.

I can't think of an easy way to end this post other than with a faint shrug, so I will move onto the reason for my presence on a bus, which was a trip to the dental hygienist. Who are these people? Who would voluntarily do that to people all day long?

I can be very obedient when instructed by people with medical degrees, and I was there because the dentist told me to be. But WHY? I was stabbed and poked and prodded and made to bleed, and it was all thoroughly unpleasant. It HURT. And I felt thoroughly battered about, and for what? My teeth weren't decaying, they just had a bit of scale on them, and it was all sitting there quite happily. It wasn't causing holes. Indeed you could say it was providing an extra layer of protection. And surely it can't be good for your tooth enamel to be scraped like that with a sharp thing? Isn't it a bit like cleaning a non-stick pan by scraping at it with a fork? Here I was paying good money, giving up good time, to be attacked with painful pointy implements, and I hadn't even asked why. And nobody had attempted to explain it to me.

And what is all this dental hygienist business, anyway? Last time I got scraped and polished it was done by the dentist herself, and it was bloody ages ago.

"See you in three months," said the hygienist.

"You'll be bloody lucky," I muttered under my breath, and ran away very fast.

They do feel quite nice now though, my teeth. I'll give her that.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Flowers and Smiles and Puppy Dogs

I've been doing an awful lot of moaning of late. I spent most of the latter half of my holiday whingeing and sighing about how hard it is being the 41-yr-old mother of a 2-yr-old and how impossible it makes it to relax or have any fun or enjoy one's holidays... but then I gave myself a metaphorical slap and reminded myself of how adorable he is, how short-lived this phase of his life is, and how motherhood is hard for everyone.

My life does swing at the moment between moments of wonder (his skin as he wraps himself around me, his smile, his squidginess, the speed with which he learns) and of hell (tying to cook or pack or clean or shop while he trails after me, grizzling and wailing "Mummeeee"), but I try too hard to fight what has to be. It is the way it is, and this too shall pass.

Likewise with the book. There are tons of positive things about this book, not least all the lovely things peple have done and said and the gorgeousness of the cover, and the fact that I am in control. It's also done what I wanted it to do, which is revive my faith in myself as a writer, stop me from defining myself as "Failed Writer", and give me a little creative boost before the mayhem and potential drudge of the new job.

Publicity is a pain. Trying to sell oneself and one's work is a pain. But it doesn't have to be. All I have to do is stop whingeing, decide what I'm happy and comfortable doing, and sod the rest. I am answerable to nobody but myself.

Publicity Fatigue

This post is a continuation, after my guest post here on Strictly Writing.

It's the "look at me" thing again, and how it relates to being a writer.

I used to rather enjoy saying "Look at me," but it has become less enjoyable since I've been trying to get published. The main thrust of my guest blog was that I like it less because I'm not successful at it. I said "Look at me," and nobody did.

It's not just that though. This brilliant piece here is by Liane Spicer, and is about how readers can help writers. But she has inadvertently highlighted the other reason I don't enjoy look-at-me so much any more. The main way readers can help writers is by spreading the word about their work, and there are a gazillion ways of doing this. These days they mostly involve online tools such as Facebook, Twitter and book recommendation / review sites like Amazon. But none of that will work unless the writer or their publisher has opened up those avenues in the first place. Sadly the main effect Liane's article had on me was to have me fretting about how my book isn't listed on Amazon. It's technically possible, as I do have an ISBN. But I'm not planning on holding books in stock, which would make it hard for the Amazon thing to work. And I can't afford the kind of cut Amazon would demand on sales. And anyway I'm probably too small an outfit, and and and...

The main reason is that I find it all so exhausting. Each little bit of online tomfoolery takes up even more time and adds even more soul-destroyingness to the number of places you have to check for feedback, and then sigh at when there is nothing there.

There is a distinct "Oh, sod it" element to the way I'm publishing this book. There's a part of me that wants to make it deliberately hard for people to get hold of it. And then I can cite that as the reason, when sales are inevitably low. I can also throw my hands up when people say, "But haven't you tried..." and I can reply, "No, I haven't, because this is a necessarily small enterprise and can never be anything else."

And although I keep being pulled in the direction of Sales Maximisation, Publicity Saturation and all that jazz... even though I secretly dream of my book suddenly Going Large... there's a large part of me that thinks, "Sod it. Only a handful of people will ever know my book exists, and it's worth it for the peace."

Still. Ahem. [cough] The only way my book will ever sell is as a result of word of mouth. So, er. You know. The power is in your hands. If you've ordered a copy... if you enjoy it when it arrives... if you happen to hang out in any of those online places and you have a moment to spare... feel free to do my publicity for me. But if, like me, you get a pain in your left ankle at the very thought of it, then hide the book under your pillow and keep it as a very special secret, which is for you and nobody else. I really won't mind.

...and I also promise to stop moaning and whingeing, starting here.


Daily s-Press - a rather nice daily online mag re indie publishing - has a feature on my book today: http://bit.ly/cZWdRk

Meanwhile I am at home with the kids, who are playing cardboard boxes but getting bored cos it's raining... have at least managed to unpack after fortnight away though. Alton Towers this Wednesday! Woohoo! I mean it. I rather like it. I just turn into an 8-yr-old again.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010


I'm still on holiday, but have been sorting bookish things out while I'm here...

There's a guest post by me on Strictly Writing here:

The order has been sent to the printer and the books should arrive on my doorstep in about 3 weeks' time, at which point I'll send them straight back out to those who have bought them. Currently 79 copies have been sold, and I'm keeping ten for myself, so another 11 are available for sale. I can't guarantee another print run but there may be one around Christmas time.

Right, I'm off to admire the view!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Never Mind the Goats

A letter to my grandmother from a fellow writer, found folded between the pages of a short story in a 1974 political magazine:

“Dear Mrs T,
Thankyou for your card and note at Christmas - I was sorry not to have seen you during the year after all; perhaps we’ll be better organised in 1974!
This was what I was writing when I spoke to you, and you very rightly said start now, don’t stop, so I thought you might like to see it. I’ve often thought of you writing with girls dispatched to school and goats milked, and admired it - and admire it even more now! To say nothing of R*’s industry and stickability.
I hope all’s well with all of you. Please remember me very warmly to Mr T,
and with love -

* R is my mother, Mrs T’s daughter, who herself is a published writer.

Girls dispatched to school and goats milked. And then some. An amazing woman. I saw her this week and she was concerned about the woman sitting next to her in the old people’s home, who didn’t know who she was when asked. “Come on now, do your best,” she said. My grandma didn’t know who the woman was. She didn’t know who the four great-grandchildren playing at her feet were either, but she loved having them there.

PS Since writing this I have visited her again. “I know you, don’t I? … Good, because you look nice.” She also asked whether I was a writer, and was very pleased to find that I was.


[NB - this was written on Mon 9th August, while on holiday]


I was thinking just now about the whole publishing ting - unsurprisingly it’s not out of my thoughts much these days - and I realised, it’s less than a week since my book was launched. And I’m already moving on - seeing it in the past. Which technically it is - the launch date anyway - but the publication of my book is still - or ought to be - an ongoing process.

This tells you something about me. I’m always in a mad rush, trying to squish a million things into one small space, whether it be clutter in a cupboard or life in a weekend.

That makes me sound like the kind of person who might abseil down a tower block, drink 20 pints in a weekend or travel the world at the drop of a hat. I don’t do big stuff like that. I do smallish stuff, and I never travel far, and I always make sure I have a safety net. But I do it BIG. Or maybe I just do it fast. Or slightly mad. But also slightly sane.

The thing about me is that I have ideas. I’’ve written before about my crazy-bonkers ideas and how most of them never get anywhere. But occasionally I’ll take something forward. There’s some critical point, which is never easy to identify at the time or even afterwards, but at this point it stops being a crazy dream and starts being The Thing That I Am Currently Obsessed With And Will Move Tower Blocks To Achieve.

At first I thought this self publication thing was an unworkable idea, the kind of thing you dream of but never do. But it wasn’t until it became the kind of thing you dream of that it became likely. For a while I toyed with the idea of sticking it on Lulu. No offence, Lulu, your books are great for what they are and they serve a purpose and all that, but… their covers bend and curl. I’ll never get past that.

As long as the self-publication dream was a matter of cheap expediency, it was never attractive enough to bother with. But as soon as I thought a little bigger, the nugget became buried in some crucial part of my brain. What if I put a bit of time, money and effort into it? What if I made something I could truly be proud of? The answer came, Sod Off. Don’t be daft. You haven’t got the money or the time. Or the energy. Or the confidence. But the idea stayed hanging in some dreamy bit of consciousness and refused to go away.

As recently as six weeks ago I thought it was just another crazy scheme and would never become reality, or if it did it would be a bit shit.But then the illustrator painted the beautiful picture, and the designer wove it into something wonderful, and I managed to do a final edit that I was happy with, and then…

The thing is, I’m stuck. I’m trapped in a bubble of time. I have been for ages. It hasn’t happened yet, this bubble. It’s over there somewhere. In the future. And I’m stuck there. And I can’t escape. My whole life has been about getting somewhere else. Making plans. Preparing. And I never arrive. So now my book has been launched - only days ago - and I’m already elsewhere. Done that. Time to move on.

And then I realise… oh. I’m actually still here. And it’s quite a nice place to be.

Maybe I’ll stick around.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Taking Stock

I think the book launch is going well. I've sold 61 books, and have decided to go to print when I have 90 orders (I'll keep 10 books back for personal use / emergencies). I'm really really hoping that Magical Ninety will be reached this weekend... which brings me to the point of this post.

At several points during this self-publishing process I've got confused about why I was doing it. There have been a few (unpleasant) moments when I've got my knickers in a twist because I worried that I was Doing The Wrong Thing. Usually in respect to some attempt at publicising the book, but sometimes regarding its content. All of those worries could be summarised as either What will the publishing industry think? or What will potential buyers think?.

I do care what other people think, of course I do. But why should I care what the industry thinks? I've already accepted I'm not going to get a conventional publishing deal, and that's no longer my aim. If it was, this would be the wrong way to go about it.

I really want people to buy my book, and enjoy it when they read it. But does that mean I want to start jumping through all those publicity hoops, doing anything I can to get sales at all costs? No. That's one of the things I was trying to get away from. And there are practical issues here: I have a young child, who needs a lot of my time. And soon I'm starting a new job.

I switched careers a year ago and have spent the last twelve months retraining to do something astonishingly demanding and stressful. When I start the new job I'll scarcely have breath to call my own, let alone time or energy. I knew I'd have some spare time this summer, and I decided to use it to publish this book. But I also knew that the legwork would have to fit into a small window, and then I'd have to abandon it to its fate.

So, I can't set up a situation that means I'll still be faffing about with websites, online orders, stuffing books in envelopes or general publicity when the summer ends. And that's why I'm thinking about what I'll do when sales reach 100. I'm contemplating stopping there.

I'm going on holiday for two weeks this Sunday. I'll be in a remote location with minimal internet access, and I'll be on my own with the kids (my partner has to stay behind for work). When I return I'll be manically preparing for the new job. I knew this holiday was coming, and squeezed the book launch in the gap. If I can reach 90 orders this weekend then I can fire off the print run, close down the website and go on holiday with nothing much to worry about.

But... but... but...

What if I could reach 285 sales? If I sold that many, I'd break even. That would be nice. It's unlikely, let's be realistic. But why on earth have I put so much work into spreading the word if I'm going to stop when I've only just begun? And what if some kind of miracle happened and Some Proper Publisher noticed what I was doing and decided to publish me after all?

Argh. That would be a hard one. I'd be a bit dismayed, to be honest. Like I say, I'll very soon have no spare time. They would want me to Do Things which I might not want to do. But maybe I'd be so excited I wouldn't care? Or maybe we could schedule all the Doing Stuff for some future breathing space? But I've already turned my back on all that. I've already published the book myself, and I've made a Damn Nice Article. I think I'd be tempted to say "No, sorry, I can't be arsed." Still. I say that. It's easy to say when I know it won't happen. If it DID happen... oh well. It won't, so that's that.

What I'll probably do is just tinker with things a bit: When the Magical Ninety is reached, I'll change the site so that instead of paying for books, people are making a £2 deposit. If 100 people make a deposit, I'll bill them for the full amount and fire off another print run. And so on, ad infinitum. That would require minimal maintenance, apart from the envelope-stuffing, but I could rope in some help for that. I think I'll do that.

There's an extra tinge of poignancy to this whole adventure. A year ago I had written myself off as a Failed Writer and didn't expect to have anything to do with writing or books for many years to come. Now I'm popping my head back around the door... but it's only to say goodbye again. It took me four years to get my first book into a publication-ready state, and six years for the second. Even if I had spare time to write - which I won't, not for a long time - it would take me an age to get another book out there. I've finally acknowledged that the third book I wrote, the one still in first-draft stage, is never going to be worth continuing with. I'm sure I will write another book. I'll never stop being a writer. But it will be a long time coming. Five to ten years, I reckon. Which is another reason why I'm no kind of proposition for a Proper Publisher. I don't have enough to offer.

I'm really proud of this book, but if you want to read something written by me, you'd better move fast - because after this summer, you'll be waiting a long time.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Go Gadget Go

Yay hurray huzzah, I finally got the website finished. And I should get, ooh, at least three hours' sleep.

So, you can now buy copies of Dance Your Way to Psychic Sex, by Alice Turing, which according to Spiral Skies Jen is "Wonderfully odd and utterly compulsive" from my lovely website which is ever-so home-made but I'm proud of it, so there.


What on earth will happen next? I have not the faintest clue. What an adventure.

Night night.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Final final cover.

Here it is!

Is utterly lovely.

A Case of the Jitters

Oh help. It's all getting a bit too close and scary now. Can't get brain to work at all. Keep jumping from one thing to another, getting totally sidetracked by Twitter and really not focusing on the things that NEED to be done.

Oh well. Is all forward movement, if nothing else.

I have now heard back from every single reviewer, and they ALL liked the book. How ace is that?

Latest quotes:

"It's loaded with sharp dialogue, some gorgeous imagery, and is punctuated with a down to earth wit which has you laughing and smiling. This is easily one of the more original stories I've read all year."
- Gordon McLean

"Wonderfully odd and utterly compulsive - some of the snazziest similes I've read all year."
- Jen Maltby

Well, all right then. I say "all". There is one reviewer I haven't heard from. And she is, just a teeny bit, scary. She is Jane Smith, from How Publishing Really Works. She is an actual bona fide editor. And she has another blog devoted purely to reviews of self-published novels. And she holds no punches. The thing is, she specifically says "I'm going to count all the errors I find in spelling, punctuation and grammar and when I reach fifteen I'm going to stop reading." ... and she critiques covers as much as contents ... and yet I sent her a proof copy to review! Am I insane? Yes. I am.

Oh well. Let's be honest: This whole project has a touch of the insanes about it.

Edit: Oh, hang on, there was another reviewer I hadn't heard from! I had lost track, but she just contacted me to say she's enjoying it. So that's OK.

Right. I must go and flap elsewhere. Anon.


Still. Could be worse. Small Person is now in bed, if not asleep. The pdfs are very-nearly-almost ready for the printers. I've managed to set up Twitter, Facebook etc. The only thing not done is the website, and if it really has to it can consist of nothing more than a jpeg of the cover and a PayPal button. It will still work.

I snuck a link to the cover in that last post, but here is a more ostentatious one. This is a not-quite final version - it has been tweaked slightly since then - but it's near enough. The blank white box is for the barcode, and the blurbs at either end are for the foldover flaps (it'll be a dust jacket, on a hardback). Isn't it LOVELY?

Time and again

I had it all worked out. It was going to be hard, but I would manage it. Somehow I would use this precious week to launch my book, build a website (for hosting said launch), do some long-overdue DIY and prepare for starting a high-pressure job in a new workplace.



What kind of damn fool am I? Haven't I learnt anything?

Lucy Pepper (velly clever lady) calls it Mumphy's Law. That thing which says that whatever you are planning to do, being a mum means that something else will come along and prevent you.

My son has been sent home from nursery because they suspect he might have hand, foot and mouth disease. He might not, but until I can get him to a doctor (tonight, 5pm) they won't have him back. So that's at least one day lost. Even though he's full of beans, happy as Larry, fit as a fiddle and on top of the world, he does have weird sore bits on his hands, feet and bum. So they might be right, in which case that's my whole week disappeared up its own arse.

Meanwhile the house is a horrific tip, which I could have coped with if I was hiding away in my study, but is a really unpleasant place to be forced to chase a toddler around (potty in hand, why oh WHY did I decide to potty-train him this week?). And yes, I could squeeze some housework in here, some typing-with-toddler-turning-study-into-warzone-in-background there, but I was already running on empty. I just can't hack it. I have gone SLUMP instead.

Sometimes parenthood sucks.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Right Then!

Ooh, it's all getting closer and closer... only three days to go. Or four. Depending on how you count it. But ANYWAY. I can hardly believe I'm nearly there, there's still so much to do. Today I have been mostly fiddling about with computer images. I could do that for HOURS. There's something immensely satisfying about it. Maybe I should be a web designer*.

I have also been slowly spreading the word about Thursday. Which is all very well, but there are so MANY places I can do this. Some poor sods will have been told via so many different avenues, they will be sick of the damn thing already.

BUT. Just in case you don't hang out on Twitter or Facebook or any of the myriad other places... My book will be launched on Thursday on this website here. Yes. The one that doesn't exist yet (well, it does a bit, but there's not much there). Oh, shut up. It'll happen. Even if it means I don't sleep between now and then. The cover is near as dammit finished (and BEAUTIFUL). I have heard from 11 out of 12 reviewers, ALL of whom loved the book (yay!) and have written some amazing reviews, most of which will be revealed on Thursday. The internals are nearly done, including a lovely title page, a stupidly-long acknowledgements section, a dedication to Mum, tons of glowing quotes, the logo for my newly-created publishing company Chutzpah Publishing (ha!), AND four more line-drawing illustrations from the ever-lovely Francis.

So, anyway. Here is some small print:

1. Copies will only be available from the website DanceYourWay.co.uk (from 5th Aug).

2. They will look something like this:

3. They will come from a limited print run. First come first served.

4. They will be gorgeous hardbacks. A lot of effort has gone into their design.

5. They will cost a tenner plus postage.

6. Payment will have to be in advance, because I'm skint. But I'm also trustworthy: Copies will be dispatched approximately three weeks after payment, depending on take-up rate.

7. Feel free to spread the word by all available means. If you have a blog / website and would like to host a stop on a virtual book tour, let me know. I'm not actually sure how that works though. Suggestions welcome.


*Mooted career change number 3,472 over the course of several years.

Sunday, 1 August 2010


Oh My God, OMG, eeeek etc...

Actually, I'm a bit drunk. I should state that now. But anyway. The website is being launched in five days' time! Not that I've created it yet or anything, but you know. Soon come.

I sent the book to 13 reviewers, and have heard back from 10 of them. I think. Maybe nine. No, ten. And they all love it!

Oh, it's no good. I'm too drunk. Suffice to say it is all on course and I am working like a bastard and not getting much sleep and it will all be very close but somehow it. Will. Happen. So there.

We have been Officially Getting Drunk, me and The Man and me, and dreaming and wishing and enthusing about all which may happen (not much, but Not Much can be surprisingly exciting).

Also, on an entirely unrelated note, my 2-yr-old is the best 2-yr-old ever and today he and I have had much excitement as I randomly decided that he was going to stop using nappies and learn how to use a potty. Which meant I let him run around naked all day and had to watch him. Properly. If you are the parent of a toddler you probably think you keep an eye on what they're up to most of the time. Maybe you really do. Or maybe you're like me and you just watch out for Things Which Will Keep Them Quiet while you cook, clean, read books, surf the net, go to the loo, watch the telly or self-publish your novel. But when you take their nappy off, that's when you find out whether you're really paying attention or not. This afternoon I was faffing about with book image files and he was being very quiet and happy in the corner of my study (throwing CDs around and puling all the books off the shelves, since you ask) when I heard a noise that didn't quite seem right. I looked over and found him, behind a bookcase, with his potty. He had done a wee on his potty. Yay! Success. He had then washed his hands in it. And stood in it. And generally bathed in it.

Oh. Not so successful. I carried him at arm's length down two flights of stairs and threw him in the shower. Which he loved. For the next hour we pretended there wasn't a hosepipe ban (showers aren't hosepipes anyway, right?) and he sat in the shower stall playing with the shower head while I smiled benignly from the bathroom doorway. The next wee he did in the potty (one of several during the day) he shouted "Dirty! Shower?" and looked at me ever-so hopefully. He also objected to nappy + babygro at bedtime in a way which made me wonder if I have just created a naturalist. Plus a very large rod for my own back.

But it was fun. And anyway. Here are some more quotes, two of which come from extensive reviews which are positively glowing:

“It's clever without being pompous or patronising; funny without being puerile; thought-provoking without being hard work. I enjoyed it enormously.”
- Queenie (from Qwerty Queen)

"Charming and delightful - while still packing a punch! This novel is quirky and clever and big-hearted in all the right ways."
- Kathleen Bryson

“This novel is deliciously different. It is ambitious in its storytelling and poignantly beautiful in its writing.”
- Helen M Hunt (Bookersatz)

In fact, if you don't tell anyone you can follow this link here and click on the heads at the bottom of the screen to see all the reviews and quotes so far. Oh yes, and if you follow that link you might notice... oh. I started writing that sentence and then got distracted and now I can't remember what the hell it was I thought you might notice. So if you follow it and notice someting, post it here and let's compare notes.

edit: Oh! I've remembered what I thought it was you might notice. It has to do with a Jewish word meaning CHEEKY FUCKER. Tee hee. And on that note I have been summoned for Elsewhere Shenanigans. Night night.