Thursday, 10 February 2011

Leaving London

In response to those who have asked why I shall be offline for a while, and that's quite a few, this is for all of you - It's because my husband and I have had a stressful couple of years – make that five, but finally things appear to be falling into place and we hope to make more time for ourselves in future. Why does that sentence make me feel really, really ancient?

Anyway, to facilitate this change of lifestyle, we are moving to the country - I was totally against it at first – I love the River Thames, having the High Street five minutes’ walk away and being a forty minute train journey to London. OK so West London isn’t perfect, the pavements and roads haven’t been repaired for years [and this is in an area where 4 bedroom houses sell for £1.5 million!] The recession has left every sixth shop front empty,  and as for the traffic! - it can take forty minutes to travel two miles, plus every street has cars parked nose to tail on both sides.

To get through, you have to challenge the other guy to a game of ‘chicken’ and force them into a gap - because they won't do it voluntarily. These lovely London-style houses are mostly Edwardian when no provision was made for cars – most don’t have drives unless the owners choose to give up their front garden – yup £1.5 mill and no front drive or garden!

We have leased a cottage in the Cotswolds, on the Oxfordshire/Warwickshire border to get us used to living with cows and sheep [OK so I’m exaggerating-a bit] and find a permanent house we really like to make our [last?] home. Naturally, my dream is the olde worlde manor house with a contemporary interior in a county town and his lordship would prefer a cabin in the woods with a shed the size of an aircraft hanger he can smash stuff up in [Those weren’t actually his words but the result will be the same]

Our daughter thinks it’s great, and wants to bring all her friends for chill-out weekends in the country, whereas our son thinks we have lost our minds and that we’ll suffocate once we get a mile away from a tube station???

I hope to get some writing done in all that peace and quiet – or am I fooling myself? But who knows, it may give me some inspiration. These pretty villages with rows of honey-coloured stone cottages all seem to have History Societies where they delve into all sorts of fascinating local facts. Wish me luck.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Sultana by Lisa Yarde

In thirteenth-century Moorish Spain, the realm of Granada is in crisis. The union of Fatima, granddaughter of the Sultan of Granada, with the Sultan’s nephew Faraj has fractured the nation. A bitter civil war escalates and endangers both Fatima and Faraj’s lives.

All her life, Fatima has sheltered in lavish palaces where danger has never intruded, until now. A precocious child and the unwitting pawn of her family, she soon learns how her marriage may determine her future and the fate of Granada. Her husband Faraj has his own qualms about their union. At a young age, he witnessed the deaths of his parents and discovered how affluence and power offers little protection against indomitable enemies. Guilt and fears plague him. Determined to carve his own destiny, Faraj struggles to regain his lost inheritance and avenge his murdered family.

Throughout the rugged frontiers of southern Spain, the burgeoning Christian kingdoms in the north and the desert states of North Africa, Fatima and Faraj survive ruthless murderers and intrigues. They unite against common enemies bent on destroying the last Moorish dynasty. While Fatima and Faraj establish a powerful bond, the atmosphere of deceit creates opportunities for mistrust and tests their love.

I agreed to help Lisa critique this novel, although the genre isn't one I would normally have chosen. However, two chapters in and the author had me completely hooked with her beautiful writing, and her well researched detail of how the last Muslim family to rule Spain lived, loved and fought. The way she takes the reader into their personal and political lives in the Alhambra Palace will touch your heart.

I know the author has been working on this book for years and it certainly shows in it's intricate detail and the emotion she has brought to her characters. Even if Medieval Spain is not a time you would normally read about, I guarantee the love between Fatima and Faraj will change your mind.

Lisa's Website

Friday, 4 February 2011

Who Won't Make NYT Bestseller List

This was sent to me by a friend who is embarking on self publishing and has reported on the furore of e-book versus paperback pricing.

Amanda Hocking consistently writes bestselling books available on Kindle, that currently hold positions in the top 50 of e-books selling on Amazon. To date she's sold 185K of her last eight books since April of last year. She's just 26 and is self-published, so won't make the NYT Bestselling list.

Not familiar with Ms Hocking's work, I went to her blog and must say her covers are amazing and even though I don't read her genre, the blurbs looked interesting.

She's quite an inspiration with an impressive list of titles under her belt and even more impressive sales - but she's 26, so it's obligatory that I hate her!!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

And If You Aren't Scared Enough Already

And here's one I cribbed from my son's FB page - the government's new website,, which crashed in it's first day of launch after receiving four and a half million hits in an hour, identifies the full extent of violent street crime anywhere in the UK.

You type in your postcode and to bring up a page showing the full extent of crime in your street. The Daily Mash's  lighthearted take on this latest PR stunt by the UK coalition are as follows:

To make it easy to scare you, the maps will feature guns, old fashioned cartoon bombs, big scary knives and men in turbans, as well as pinpointing millions of suspected kiddie-fiddlers using the Facebook logo.

Home secretary Theresa May said: "Unfortunately danger is everywhere. I am amazed you're still alive. Well done."

"These maps will show that even if there is not a horrible crime in your street, something incredibly disturbing will have happened within five minutes walk.

"But it's okay because I am here to tell you that I am going to protect you. In meantime why not ease the stress of being under constant threat of death or molestation by using your credit card to buy a shiny thing?"

May said the maps would also be available as a smart phone 'app' so that busy professionals could be paranoid and fearful between meetings.

She added: "When you meet someone at a party you can ask what street they live in and then nip to the loo with your iPhone before rejoining the conversation and trying to work out whether your new acquaintance is a terrorist, a fraudster or a predatory sex beast who is probably going to follow you home."

Meanwhile experts noted the map showed only three cases of serious theft in central Westminster, but May stressed there was no need to log those instances where MPs had given back some of the money they had stolen quite deliberately.

Taxi companies have also welcomed the maps with some planning to use them on terrifying leaflets that will be handed out in pubs to women and weedy men with spectacles.

Long live the British ability to send themselves up and the right to free speech - while it lasts that is!
This is the real image I got from the site for my area. The figures aren't bad, but still scary if I plan to walk across the Green at night!