Category Archives: Humour

And I’m published!

Whoop whoop! Sunday saw the release of my debut novel, Lady Betty and the Bonnet from Hell. To say I’m pleased would be rather a big understatement. 🙂

I’ve rather neglected this blog since the birth of the twins, but I shall endeavour to post more frequently from now on.

Lady Betty and the Bonnet from Hell is available to buy from Amazon kindle here.

P1040400 ps 6 copy

My rather lovely front cover. 🙂

And I’ll leave you with the blurb…

If Lady Betty had been freckle free, Lord Edward Carrington wouldn’t be in a carriage with her, border bound, hoping to flirt his way out of the parson’s trap.
Edward needs a bride or he’ll be disinherited. Responsible for an estate, he needs to fall on his sword and marry but his shadowed bloodline doesn’t bode well. Looking after people is his job. He’s good at it. He’s not so good at asking for help; especially if it means letting his future wife watch him die.
Losing a loved one breaks people; Betty’s seen it happen. Marrying will let her escape the mausoleum her father has turned their home into, but she needs a husband she won’t mind losing. With only one man to choose from, Edward seems perfect until she realises she’s found her first true friend. A friend capable of making her toes curl.
Bonnet eating sheep, mid-road waltzes and duels at dawn; a fifty-fifty chance of losing each other in the future is nothing compared to what tomorrow holds.

 


Losing my Chauffeur

My chauffeur driven days are coming to an end. The twins are now six weeks old (doesn’t time fly!) so I am now officially classed as safe to drive. I’m not entirely certain that any sleep-deprived-mother with four small children/babies strapped in the back is ever really safe to drive but I’m a willing to give it a shot. Any moaning from the rear seats and I just turn the music up, right? 🙂

But it is an end of an era. What with having these last six weeks and about 7 weeks before then when I was too damn big to fit behind the wheel, I’ve been chauffeured about by either my husband or my dad forever. And I must say, it’s been rather nice, quite like the lady of the manor. Admittedly the seats aren’t upholstered in velvet, are always forward facing, and no hot bricks have been placed under my feet but I have just climbed on board (at various points in time this has constituted a task of monumental proportions), pointed the way and snuggled down to watch the world go by.
But as of monday, I, yes little old me, am responsible for the nursery trips again. I am responsible for getting two six week olds, a two year old and a four year old, in and out of the car, into the pram, to the nursery and back home again, TWICE a day. Gosh. I’m not up to getting the big pram in and out of the car yet, so I’m stuck with a double buggy, which means I will be holding two little people’s hands while pushing said pram. Fun fun fun.

I’m sure it will be fine. What can go wrong after all? Anyway best get on with my day considering it is getting on and I am sat in my dressing gown eating cereal out of the box with only vague thoughts about getting a shower…

Here’s a snippet from this week. I’m still rewriting Braving Madness and this is from the first chapter…

Even at the edge of awakening, the nightmare refused to release its hold. All of Edward’s doubts and fears multiplied in the darkness of his mind until the terror grew beyond reason. Gaunt to the point of cadaverous, with skin like paper, his late father’s form swam before Edward’s eyes, only to be crowded by the familiar faces of the Carrington estate. From the defenceless newly born to their weary elders, each pair of eyes looked to him for security, confident he wouldn’t shirk his responsibility; that no gentleman would put aside every rule instilled into him from the cradle through his own fears for the future.

2013-05-17 08.53.18This is my other mode of transport. My ‘big guns’ pram. You can just feel the burn, can’t you.

More and more nappies…

As you can imagine my life at the minute mainly consists of adjusting to having an extra couple of mouths to feed and bums to wipe. It feels rather odd to be responsible for quite so many little people especially when I ended up being incapable of very much at all (other than waddling) for the last two months of my pregnancy. Four, four years and under. What was I thinking????2013-05-07 17.12.00

 

(Yeah the school run is going to be a piece of piss...)

But I am enjoying it, and surprisingly, even with twins, the new additions are fitting well into our everyday routines. My older two love the babies and help out when they can. All of which means that I am actually getting on with other things. This morning I was even thinking about putting the second coat of paint on the dining room walls. Obviously this was just a fleeting thought though and I have no intention of actually hunting out a brush. But the thought is a good step in the right direction.

The garden has also been calling out for attention, with some rather cheeky buttercups deciding to take over the middle of my flower beds. Considering I haven’t gardened in about six months, I am surprising there hasn’t been a complete takeover by the dreaded weeds. So this weekend, weather permitting, I am hoping to get out there and show them who is boss. I also with an eye to the approaching summer holidays, I have plans of building a climbing frame for the girls. Alright, I have plans for supervising the building of a climbing frame for the girls. 😉 See, I’m trying to have realistic aims. I will need to move a few plants to make space and I think that is probably about my level. I shalln’t be digging out the power tools just yet…

Anyway, I have actually managed to get some writing done this week so here is a snippet to share. This is from Braving Madness and is in Edward’s POV. This is a new start to the story and forms part of Betty and Edward’s first meeting.

The dream shattered and he jerked awake into darkness.

His face lay shrouded and with fragments of the nightmare splintering his common sense, he clawed at the fabric with frantic fingers, the heat from his own breath reflecting back at him with a suffocating closeness. He flung the object to the side and he gulped in clear, fresh air like a drowning man.

Fresh air?

He blinked his eyes open into a pearl grey sky, the view unfettered by glass or window frames. Recumbent as he was, on a surface hard enough to be a park bench, the whole hemisphere of the heavens were open to him, skeletal trees on the horizons grasping upwards with desperate gnarled branches while ink smudged clouds tore along the backdrop like breaking water, turbulent and heavy with the threat of rain, their undersides glowing a fiery red as if they had were escaping from the depths of hell itself.


And then there were six!

Finally, the twins are here. They arrived two and half weeks ago, full term and each a healthy six and half pounds.

2013-04-24 09.42.12

James William is on the left, and his sister Lily Ann is on the right. Colour coordinated by dummies but they do actually look quite different, so I’ve yet to have revert to checking nappies for who is who. (Although I did confuse the health visitor by putting James in pink and Lily in blue, she just gave me a look like I was mad. What can I say? I dressed them at night and to be honest fashion wasn’t rated anywhere nearly so high as trying to get some sleep.)

As you might have guessed my writing has somewhat fallen along the wayside these last couple of months. First through lack of sleep, my immense proportions and difficulty in balancing the laptop anywhere I could actually reach, and lately due to only getting a few hours of sleep each night. But happily things are starting to settle down and I am currently only up for a couple of hours each night so the creative juices have started to flow (makes a change from milk being everywhere. You would not believe how much milk I am having to produce to feed two hungry babies! I’ve had to dig out my over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder-bras.) So far I’ve managed to write about 700 words. Not a huge amount but it is a start. I’m working on a new beginning to Braving Madness as although I’m pleased with the second half of the book, the first half still needs a fair bit of work, so I’m giving myself license to play with it for the next few weeks.

Oh and just in case you fancy a laugh, this is how big I got just before going into the hospital…

2013-04-25 03.23.48

 


Wallflower or English Rose…

These last few weeks I’ve been reading a lot of regency romances, in the realms of one per day. Probably has something to do with the fact my expanding waistline means I need to take a break from chores about every ten minutes, even unloading the dishwasher has me out of breath. Although you would think I would pick a reading material which didn’t boast arms full of young and slender girls decked in empire line dresses. A fair proportion of my current wardrobe has empire line fitting but let me tell you, below my bustline I definitely don’t have the willowly column these girls have.
But that aside, reading so much in the era does remind me how difficult a young lady’s position could be when it came to finding a suitable partner, and with no employment for such ladies, marriage would be everything. A crooked nose, an excess of freckles, or an unfortunate hair colour, all would be enough to send the suitors scurrying and the season would turn into one long wait with the other wallflowers.
And even if you should be blessed with fashionable looks, the chase would be no less difficult. Family line, size of dowry, manner and voice, a lack of accomplishments, all could tip the scale between Rose and wallflower.
So how would I have faired? Well ignoring the fact that my family history seems to be farmers or labourers, I don’t think I would been a success, in fact a blue-stocking would have been an appropriate label.

bluestockingsociety-by-sinbozkurt-7

This is NOT the kind of blue stocking I mean.

I’ve studied hard, and I have no objection to supplying my opinion whether it is asked for or not. Now, romance books are teeming with blue-stockings but exactly like the feel-good romance movies we have these days, under every blue-stocking there is a pretty heroine waiting to emerge. You know the type, clad in ugly glasses, frumpy clothes and hairstyle, all it needs is a few hours with a stylist and viola, a beauty emerges that the hero could really fall in love with.
So what has all this reading taught me? That in the next story, my heroine Harriet is NOT going to be pretty. And I don’t mean that in the normal romance way, you know, where she just has slightly unfashionable looks, I mean a proper plain Jane with only her wit to recommend her. I want my hero to really have to look beneath the skin.

Here is the first description of Harriet from Held in the Balance as Lydia Taunton’s best friend.

“Harriet, I can’t do it.” The words burst from Lydia in a rush. If it had been anyone other than Harriet she would have been tempted to get a bit more drama in. “I’ve made a mistake.”
“A mistake?” Harriet’s eyebrows nearly disappeared into the flaming carrot orange hair the poor girl had been cursed with. The hair, along with a heavy enough case of freckles sufficient to look like a skin disease, was referred to them only as ‘the affliction’ and as far as Harriet was concerned was the reason for enduring her third season.


Needle and thread

This week I’ve had a little industry set up making baby dungarees. With a boy to sew for, my fabric choices have suddenly boomed. Not that I’ve always had my two little girls dressed head to toe in pink, but there is a bit of a princess/flower/teddy theme for the most part. No more. Super fabric is made for boys, from tanks and trains to material covered with all types of creepy crawlies realistic enough to have any mother in a flap batting them away. This time I settled for one with cars, one with chocolates, two french fashion prints and an emergency service print. Pretty exciting.

2013-01-08 13.46.44

Sadly I don’t tend to have the time to make my own clothes. When I did, I used to make myself a fair few period clothes. I like the individuality of making and designing clothes, to know I’m never going to meet anyone wearing the same dress or shirt.

I do wonder sometimes whether that would have happened to any of the tonne. Would any of the ladies recoiled in horror as the entered the ballroom as another woman waltzed past them wearing the exact same dress. It seems pretty unlikely. I think any modiste worth her salt wouldn’t do exact copies of dresses, she’d make sure there was something different in each one.  An extra ruffle, a extra pleat, some small detail changed. And to honest, when you’re handsewing getting things to look exactly the same is no easy task, believe me, especially if you are rusing to meet an ambitious deadline set by some demanding lady.

I like to make sure all my heroines can sew. Sewing isn’t really that difficult, and at a time when clothes would be very expensive, I think mending would be a skill all mothers would want to instill in their daughters, and would be a skill likely to be appreciated by husbands and fathers more than a dubious talent for watercolours.

In the following snippet from Held in the Balance, Lydia is about to demonstrate her mending skills….

Remembering the excuse she’d thought up, Lydia stepped back from the door and routed through her reticule, pushing past charcoal pencils to find a rather grubby needlework kit. Needle and silk at the ready, she just needed a rented hem and her presence would be explainable even if the ladies retiring room would have been a more obvious place to re-stitch the trailing piece. She jammed her low heel into the fine silk of her skirt and jerked the fabric upwards with a satisfying rip.

“Am I intruding?”

Lydia gritted her teeth at Simon’s gentle tones. Now she had no chance of spying upon Lord Goodall and had a torn hem to boot. Perfect. She span around, needlework kit clutched in one fist and made no attempt to smooth out her creased skirts. “Intruding? Of course not, I always like an audience while I attempt to do mending.”


Beware all who enter…

I live in a house filled with disease. Ever since my eldest started nursery she has brought one bug after another into our house with such frequency we should have a cross painted on the door to ward off visitors. The brave people who do actually manage to brave the lurgies and kindly come and help me out for the day(kind, kind people ) leave contaminated and within a couple of days are coughing and sniffing with the rest of us only dispelling the germs in time to come and catch the next batch.

But we have managed the first half term. Well sort of, as my little one is currently stretched out on the sofa and I need to ring up the nursery again and tell them she won’t be attending the last day of the half-term, but overall we have survived. An achievement of sorts. Just the next twenty years or so to get everyone through school… piece of cake.

I’m sure it won’t surprise you to know my stories aren’t usually rife with disease, so this link is a bit of a stretch but I’m going for the stomachache angle. I’m still tinkering away at the first chapter of Held in the Balance. I would love to throw myself in full force but I’m still in editing mode for Braving Madness and I know if I don’t get on with that now I never will. Still, this snippet is at Lydia’s engagement ball and starts with Lydia’s father toasting the happy couple.

He lifted an elegant crystal glass ceiling-wards and the light from the chandeliers turned the champagne into the palest honey, catching the carved facets and making his hands impossibly large. “Ladies and gentlemen, will you all join me in wishing the happy couple a hearty congratulations on their engagement this evening. To the happy couple.”

The toast rippled across the ballroom, a mixture of sincerity, envy and downright apathy from those only interested in the free champagne flowing so freely through the evening they should be swimming in the stuff. She’d drunk enough herself and her stomach churned with bubbles and the inevitability of her future sank like a stone to the bottom.

 


Autumn

I’m not quite sure when it happened but it seems autumn is finally upon us. One minute I had roses still blooming in my garden and the next day the leaves on my dogwood had turned a fiery shade of red. And I’ve still not got my bulbs planted out. I went out yesterday and dug a couple of pits (with a little helper) and chucked some in, in half hearted attempt but it didn’t seem to make too much of a dent on the supply. This happens every year. I order bulbs from a catalogue some time in the summer when I am all enthusiastic and the prospect of planting out the odd few hundred bulbs doesn’t seem that daunting, a challenge even, my mind fixed on the images in the catalogue and all the pretty flowers my garden will have in the spring. But when it actually comes to planting them out I remember how half of the bulbs got eaten by slugs the minute they put their shoots up and how I spent much of the spring looking at the neon pink tulip and then at the catalogue picture of the lovely pastel shade of pink and thinking how unfortunate I should have planted them right next to the neon yellow tulips, which should have been the palest of creams according to the catalogue.

But nevermind. My riotous spring garden with its jumble of colours can wait a few months, right now I’m busy enjoying the autumn shades and snuggling under a blanket as the nights draw in early.

Now I’m going to struggle to find a snippet related to autumn in either Braving Madness or my new WIP Held in the Balance as both of them are set in the spring. Rats. So I’ll just cheat and share a snippet from my new WIP just because I can. This is written in Lydia’s POV and her father is announcing her engagement to Lord Curzon to the rest of the tonne. He is not a man accustomed to making speeches…

Sir John tipped his head towards his future son-in-law. “I hope you realise what you’re getting yourself into Curzon, my boy. She’ll not be an easy handful. I should know, had to raise the chit myself for longer than I care to remember. Shouldn’t admit she’s used to wearing the britches about the house but I’m sure a man like you will be able to charm her out of them once you’re married.”

Lydia refused to cringe and thanked her lucky stars that she never blushed. This time the titters were loud enough to be heard even from the ladies clustered at the back of the hall. Her mother would have been mortified. Not that it had ever taken much.

“I can assure you I will do my utmost.” Lord Simon Curzon’s reply was uniform, nothing in the words to tell he had even noticed Sir John’s accidental innuendo.


Finished

I don’t normally write posts about writing.

I figure I waffle on enough about writing to family and friends that I don’t really have any reason to bore you guys about it. Instead I waffle on about a range of other sometimes boring topics. But today I feel like I have sufficient reason to bend my own rules.

The book I have been working on for the last EIGHTEEN months is finally finished. Well, the first draft at least. I was beginning to think it would never happen. Admittedly I did somewhat slow the pace down by throwing the whole thing in the bin at 60,000 words but finally it is finished at a whopping 110500 words. In fact about 15,000 words longer than I wanted it to be.

But it is done. Printed out, (with steadily fading ink) and bound in a folder just a teeny bit too small for it so the pages all keep falling out. An unfortunate circumstance considering I forgot to put page numbers on. Oops. So now I am in editing mode, chiefly with my red pen handy for cutting that odd 15,000 words.

And I get to start a new story. Lovely lovely lovely. I’m 1500 words into ‘Held in the balance’ and I am loving it already.

So chocolate cake at the ready, here is a snippet from the epilogue to kick start the celebrations.

“I think now would be a good idea to take that constitutional walk of yours,” Edward said in a hushed undertone to wife. Considering the impressive lung capacity of their new grandson and the frequency he felt compelled to use them to their full extent, Edward could have bellowed the words to Betty and the rest of the company would have been none the wiser.

Leaving his son-in-law with his arms full of squalling baby and a comic look of dismay on his face, the pair of them crept from the overheated room even as the formidable nurse clad in a heavily starched uniform strode towards the infant with her arms outstretched and a disapproving look on her face.

Arm in arm, they hurried down the corridor like naughty children escaped from the nursery, gathering cloaks and shawls as they went from a sympathetic footman. Outside dusk was already approaching and the long shadows of grand oaks stretched out onto the lawn in front of Carrington house, and fiery leaves tumbled and swirled along the gravelled path and crunched beneath Betty’s sturdy boots.

Twenty years and he still hadn’t persuaded her into the lures of dainty footwear despite numerous pricey gifts, all outrageously boxed items with lengths of silk ribbons and mounds of the finest tissue paper. Not that he’d spent twenty years continually concerned about her feet; nine boisterous children and now an equally boisterous grandchild had a habit of forcing all but the most urgent matters from a man’s mind.


Off to Nursery

My little girl started nursery this week. I’ve been so nervous about it despite telling myself over and over that it will be good for her and she’ll really enjoy it. Those reassurances did nothing to stop my tummy turning into a swirling whirling mess.

And of course, she was absolutely fine. True, they did need to prise her off me when I left and she might have been crying and screaming ‘noooooooooo, mummy I need you’, and then apparently hid under a table crying for an hour. But when Nancy and I went to pick her up she was bubbling over with all the exciting things she’d done and played with. Even the fact she’d cried under the table. And on her second day, she raced off with barely a backwards glance.

So my life is changing again, no more just doing what we want, when we want. Now I need to join the masses and do the merry little commute to school twice a day and wait with all the other parents, rain, wind and shine, as all the little people come out looking ever so cute in their oversized uniforms.

On the upside, I do get to come home and put my littlest one down for her nap and then well, I can have a nap as well. I’d almost forgotten what naps are like. I definitely recommend them.

Now not surprisingly, I’ve struggled to find a link to a nursery in my WIP so I’ve had to go for a weak sleeping link. Never mind, I still like this little exchange. Betty and Edward are standing outside the entrance to a public house about to enter and Edward is in a mood for seduction.

“I only meant that this isn’t the kind of place where you should be seen without a maid.”  Despite his outward concern for proprieties, his fingers didn’t stop their caress on the smooth skin of her wrist, neither did he move his gaze, instead he drank in the details of her face until they burned into his mind and he would be able to see her with his eyes shut.

He probably would have anyway when he tried to sleep. When it came to getting a sound night’s rest, he just knew she would be worse than eating cheese before bed time. 

Betty stared back at him without blinking. “What are those men likely to do? Try and kiss me senseless? I would imagine they would be more than happy to leave that to you.”

If only.

“Besides my makeshift maid is already here,” Betty said, blissfully unaware of his thoughts, “And anyway, I’ve stayed in coaching inns before. This hardly seems a den of iniquity.”

Releasing her hand, he knocked his beaver hat into a rakish angle. He couldn’t help himself; it was too good an opportunity. “That’s because I have yet to enter the premises.”