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On Blessings

The English language is a rich and wonderful thing. Those of us who have it as our mother tongue hardly know how lucky we are. The Italians, for instance, have to use the same word for a niece, a nephew or a grandchild. I mean, really? There’s just one area of English where it seems…

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Working Speed

In athletic terms a novelist needs to be a marathon runner. I have known novelists who could produce a first draft in less than two months but they’ve tended to be men enjoying 5 star domestic support. No school or supermarket run for them. No plumber to hang around for. I’m definitely a distance runner …

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Bits and Pieces

One or two of you noticed that my website was down over Christmas and thought I had perhaps grown tired of life. Thank you for your concern, but nothing so dramatic. My domain name (search me) apparently lapsed on Christmas Eve without a murmur of warning and I was on the road, unable to do…

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The Roar of the Greasepaint

This is possibly, almost certainly, my last blog post before Christmas. I’m about to set off on one of my Granny Progresses, though I’m a lot cheaper to keep than Queen Bess was. No retainers and horses that need feeding, no truculent demands for entertainment. I may not arrive with my own bed and carpenters…

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Foxes and Hedgehogs

I’ve been asked the same question by several readers recently. How come I know so much about such a wide range of subjects? I blush even to type that last sentence. Now I’ll hurry on to correct a very mistaken impression. To answer the question: I don’t know a lot. I’m just interested in a…

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Cooking the Books

First, I’d like to reply to a question several readers have put to me: how can I possibly be without a publisher? The quick answer is, very easily. But let me explain. Publishing houses are no longer gentlemanly outfits where authors are cherished even in their dotage. Publishing is now big business, answerable to shareholders.…

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The Zen of Unemployment

  This is the button I’m definitely not going to push before, say, February’s rent is due. I’m puttering on with Volume 2  so that if/when the day to self-publish dawns I’ll have the convincing makings of a series. And when I’m not writing I’m keeping the hamster wheel of domesticity turning. The mending basket…

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Displacement Activity

Displacement activity, definition: an unnecessary activity carried out to avoid a difficult or unpleasant scenario. Examples: A bird, faced with an ambiguous situation  –  should he fly away or hang around for some potentially nutritious crumbs?  –  will peck the ground.  A dog, unsure whether or not he’s in trouble, will scratch himself. A writer,…

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Words for the Season

Like every English schoolgirl I learned Keats’s Ode to Autumn by heart and can still remember fragments of it now. Uplifting as that is, I wish the part of my brain that retains poetry would also hang on to some useful stuff, like PINs and phone numbers. Autumn is a rich seam for poetry readers.…

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Something For the Weekend

Thanks, first, to readers who sent me words of encouragement in these dark days. I may be out in the publishing wilderness but I’m still writing and probably always will. My dying breath will likely be, ‘Quick, a pen…’ I received a lovely gift yesterday: two issues of Slightly Foxed, that most charming and readable…

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