Yes, I’m afraid so folks, it’s “that” time of year again. But don’t look so glum… Christmas shopping can be fun, if you know where to go. Why not forget about the blare and glare of the high street this year and check out some independent shops instead:
How about a little something for that magic person in your life?
or maybe a nice book for Dad?
Just make sure you don’t buy him this one….
It’s perfectly safe (I’m sure) but I think he’s already read it!
And no Christmas shopping trip would be complete without a visit to Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes…
I’m sorry what was that?
Oops! According to the scary-looking witch at the next table, Diagon Alley is supposed to be a closely guarded secret. I’d better not say any more. Looks like it’s back to Marks & Spencer for you after all. I’d offer to come and carry your bags but it’s cold out there and I’ve just ordered another round of Butterbeers.
My stinky space pirate, Blackbeard, has flown the nest and set up on his own over at http://bloodthirstyblackbeardthebad.blogspot.co.uk/
but I’m trying not to take it personally! I’ve been keeping busy (so I don’t miss him too much) with a spot of castle clambering….
and some mean and moody mountain-mooching…
Oh dear, I seem to have gone into alliterative overdrive. Time to clear the verbal pallet with some reading exercises I think, starting with something nice and simple like a station sign…
We have lift off on The Adventures of Jake and Moon Granny: Space Pirate Panic, my chapter book published with Knowonder! Jake and his space-zooming grandmother are out in the big wide universe now, with Blackbeard and his gang of stinky space pirates in hot pursuit!
Between you and me, Blackbeard’s been feeling a bit peeved that his name’s not on the front cover. He’s decided to compensate with a blog all of his own… more about that coming soon. in the meantime he’s even set himself up on Twitter! The brave-hearted and blocked-nosed among you can track him down at Blackbeard@Stinky_Pirate. Just don’t tell him I sent you…
Watch out for space pirates – they’re heading this way!
Nobody knew where it came from. No one had the words left to ask.
The Writers’ Gloom hung above their heads, glorying in its own greyness. It had swallowed up the colours, belching out bleached leftovers like an inebriated uncle at a family wedding.
“Mwah ha ha ha,” it boomed, “I’ve got you now, you measly metaphor-munchers… you pointless paragraph procrastinators.” (Like all Great Glooms it was frightfully fond of alliteration.) “Your mediocre manuscripts will never see the light of day, d’you hear me? Your dribbling dregs of dramatic tension are all DOOOOOMED. Delete them now! Kill your dreams! No contracts for you, you pathetic pack of plot planners. No one wants to know.”
The writers wept for their empty inboxes and un-signed submissions. It was all too true. Every last word of it.
“You!” thundered the Gloom. It pointed to a sad-faced individual, half-hidden underneath an enormous pile of rejection letters. “Lose the laptop! Ditch the draft! Sell the thesaurus and buy a cat instead.” The writer nodded dumbly and slunk back to bed.
It turned to a second writer, cowering behind an 850-litre cafetiere of coffee. “You’re nothing but a talentless twerp,” it roared. “That agent-slash-editor will NEVER respond to your submission. All those hours spent stalking her on Twitter were an UTTER WASTE OF TIME.” The writer weighted down his pockets with his entire collection of these-will-magically-transform-me-into-a-bestselling-author pens and climbed into the waiting coffee pot, to end it all.
“And as for you,” boomed the Gloom, pointing to a chilly-looking lady who’d taken refuge under her cheap Ikea desk. “Call yourself a writer, you ridiculous wretch of a wannabe?” It folded its grey arms and giggled (gloomily). “You can’t even manage a paltry post on your breathtakingly boring blog, let alone a new novel. You might as well give up altogether.”
“Well that’s where you’re wrong,” the writer roared back. Was it her imagination or was there the tiniest slither of blue sky behind the Gloom’s swirling grey shoulders? “I may be having a bit of a slow day-slash-week-slash-month with very little to show for my efforts but you’re wrong about the blog post, because here it is and you’re in it! Hah!”
That pretty much told the Gloom. It disappeared over the horizon, back to wherever it was it had come from, without so much as a backwards glance or a rude hand gesture. The writers cheered and cheered, fetching their battered hopes back out of storage and knocking over countless half-drunk cups of tea in their excitement. And the air was once more alive with the sound of happy keyboard-tapping and pinging email inboxes. And they all lived happily ever after. Sort of.
Back from an amazing fortnight of sun, surf and sights in the Basque region of France and Spain. Took Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises to read and followed along in Jake’s footsteps up into the Spanish mountains and down to Pamplona.
We took in the weird….
and the wonderful…
and arrived home to the exciting news that The Growing Down of Pickle-Eyed Joe has been shortlisted for the Greenhouse Funny Prize. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Sheep interviews used to be pretty straightforward affairs consisting of three basic questions:
1) Can you baaaaaaaa?
2) Do you follow the flock?
3) Can you impersonate a cloud?
1 and 2 were generally a given, so providing the candidate was capable of drifting across the landscape like a fluffy cumulus on legs he got the gig. It was as simple as that. But it turns out the rules have changed. Due to the unseasonably hot weather we are experiencing at the moment, clouds are OUT and blue skies are IN. Unfortunately for would-be woollies this means no more soft white clouds grazing gently in fields. No, we want sheep-shaped blobs of brilliant azure dotting our hills instead, thank you very much. It’s a tough ask but I think these Dartmoor chaps have got it licked:
And in further blue news today, my Bluebeard inspired teen short story ‘Welcome to Bluez’ is the guest tale on the fabulous Fiction Femme Fatale site. You can find it at http://www.fictionfemmefatale.blogspot.co.uk