Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Surviving the Special Educational Needs System: How to Be a Velvet Bulldozer

I've been a little concerned about what to blog during April as my connection to Aspergers is through my nephew and not my son, so I therefore don't feel at all qualified to say very much. I can only say how wonderful A is and how much he has brought to my extended family. He is such an interesting chap and I believe that he has made most of us look at the world a little differently to how we did before he came along.

There are various books on autism but one that is well written as well as having a clever title is this one by by Sandy Row. Sandy and her husband have four adopted children, all of whom are on the autistic spectrum. You can find out more about Sandy here.

I have been tagged to do this meme by the lovely Kerry who has a beautifully designed and interesting blog and here's how it works:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

My nearest book is Vintage by Olivia Darling and the fifth sentence is "She'd had plenty of practice as a teenager at getting out of the house without alerting her parents to the fact that she was leaving."

The next three sentences are: "And so she made it to the bottom of the stairs without Axel noticing at all. Madeleine glimpsed her lover as she passed the study door. He was sitting at her desk, doodling on a note pad as he made the transatlantic call."

This is a fun meme and so I tag anyone that feels like doing it. I'm now off to carry on reading this juicy book.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Vintage, Bubbles & Pesky Moles

As soon as I saw this book on the shelf of WHSmith at Gatwick I thought someone had taken a sneaky picture of me and put it on the cover so I simply had to buy the book and see what it was all about. Okay, I know that the model doesn't even resemble me in my long past prime but one can enjoy the occasional dream, however fantastic. I'm loving it and enjoying the occasional bottle of bubbles whenever I can find an excuse to, I thought the subject matter most appealing, ie gorgeous men, glamorous high-living women and vineyards. Ahh.

The only thing I can say against it is that I should have kept it for the summer when I fully intend lazing whenever possible, or indeed warm enough on my ever-present sun lounger (yes it's been dragged out of storage, washed and placed in the garden).

Talking of gardens, I raced home from the office today to be met by R who was sauntering around the garden, smile on his face, coffee in hand as he surveyed our handiwork this weekend. The sun was shining, Grumpy skipping like a grey spring lamb until, horror or horrors he spied not one molehill in his pristine lawn or even two but four of the damn things. Well, end of happy mood, a few expletives, foot stamping and the dog, who up until that moment hadn't noticed anything untoward (useless terrier that he is) shoved his face into one of the holes, snorting madly and began digging.

Suffice to say that my short-lived peace was shattered and we now have one dog with a filthy face, a sulking husband and a ruddy great hole in the lawn next to three flattened molehills.

Ahh the joys of gardening, don't you just love it?

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Wii Fit, Weeding & Bright Ideas

Yesterday the Wii Fit was launched and having spend over a week with constant reminders from S and finding pink post-it notes near the toaster, kettle, in the shed and various other places, I knew that I was destined never to enjoy a moments peace again should I dare to forget to collect it. I am a complete technophobe and the only thing technical that I work on a regular basis is a computer, laptop and my radio alarm clock and I only use the alarm part of that.

S persuaded me to step on to the Wii and measured my balance (slightly to the right), my weight (let's not go there, shall we), my BMI which is ... well, it's rather high to say the least and my Wii fitness age which was 55! In between weeding the garden, planting honeysuckles, geraniums and something else that I can't remember the name of, I have also been on and off the Wii.

I can slalom (badly); hoolahoop, whilst catching hoops with my head; tightrope walk, do an aerobic dance and even jogged for five minutes (the 8 June is looming ever closer) and have managed to reduce my Wii fitness age to 37. I have a horrible feeling that I'm going to become addicted to something technical and it's a scary thought. I also weighted Grumpy who is 10kgs (perfect).

R dragged me to the garden centre and having filled the boot of the car with more then enough plants to start our own gardening business, I arrived back and it was only as I was taking everything out of the car that it dawned on me that I will be the one planting them all tomorrow.

My rewrite is coming long slowly but at least I'm making some headway with it. I've been inspired by Donald Maas and have had a few ideas that I'm sure will improve the intensity of the story, however I'll have to get up extremel early tomorrow to have enough time for all the gardening and going to the shed.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Expanding TBR Piles & Things You Can't Explain

It's the official UK publication today of Rowan Coleman's, The Accidental Wife. I can't wait to read this and shall have to add it to my ever increasing tbr pile(s). The husband will have a fit as I'm taking over more and more space in the house. "It looks like a damn bookshop in here," he said the other day as one of the piles collapsed as he dared to stroll past it. What can I say? There are far worse compulsions than mine for buying books. It could be shoes, they're far more expensive, or even handbags.

I've been tagged by the lovely and talented Lane to list three things I can't explain to my mother. This was actually far harder than I thought as she seems not to need any explanation from me and we can be scarily similar sometimes. So having given this a little thought, here goes.

1) That despite her assurance, not everyone can draw/paint (she is a great artist, I would like to be but am utterly hopeless).
2) I can't help finding her funny even though sometimes my amusement annoys her slightly (my daughter is now doing this to me and I'm beginning to see how it feels).
3) Why I don't possess her incredible energy even though I'm twenty years younger than her.

Well, that gave my brain a bit of a workout. So now I'm going to nominate Tom Foolery who has awarded me my lovely 8-worded award; motherx and yvonne

Just a Quickie

I'm having a few problems with my home connection, which will hopefully be sorted this afternoon by clever b-i-l, so will reply to any comments and hopefully post properly then.

So frustrating!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Competition Reminder & CPD

Just a quick reminder about the Daily Mail/Transworld First Novel Prize. For those of you who've finished your novel, or almost there, you could win an advance of £30,000 and have your first novel published by the same company as Joanna Trollope, Bill Bryson, Jilly Cooper, and Frederick Forsyth.

The competition is open to anyone aged 16+ and who isn't already a published novelist. The judges are: Joanne Harris, Simon Kernick, Fanny Blake and Francesca Liversidge, Transworld's Publishing Director. You'll need to submit a complete work of not less than 80,000 words and no more than 150,000 words and a synopsis of no more than 600 words.

The closing date is just over 2 months away on Wednesday, 2nd July 2008. You can find out more here

Today I spent nearly two hours in training, which consisted of a case study with two lawyers. I have to do 25 hours per annum of CPD (contined professional development?) and agreed to go as it didn't look too dreadful and we were to be served trays of tasty sandwiches as it was at lunchtime. However, when I volunteered I didn't realize that there would be a case study where we would be split into groups of four and have to cover various questions. I much prefer courses where you arrive, sit down, drink water, take notes and no-one bothers you.

I did end up enjoying this though but after concentrating so hard my brain is a little tired, so I'm going off to the shed for a bit of peace and quiet

Monday, 21 April 2008

BAFTAs, Edits & Drink Machines

Last night I was thrilled to watch Dame Eileen Atkins collect her well-deserved first Bafta. Having thoroughly enjoyed Cranford, I ended up buying the DVD so that I could watch it whenever I felt the need to. What I find hard to believe was that she had to wait 39 years since her last nomination. Quite incredible.

I'm slowly working through my copy of Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas and don't want to miss a single piece of his valuable advice. I hope that I'm making the best use of all the information being gleaned from this book during my editing of RP as I only have three and a half months until I need to send my m/s off to the New Writers' Scheme for their excellent critique.

Today at work we all received an email advising us that we now have a drinks vending machine in our main kitchen and stating that if any of us had a drink problem to kindly contact the sender who will do his best to help. Bless him, I'm sure he only meant for us to ask for help with regard to the machine but you just know that some bright spark will have felt compelled to send him a witty reply.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Breakout Novels & Smoothies

As I need all the help I can get with my writing, I ordered (and received two days ago, yay) Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas and it is brilliant. I've finally started my redraft of RP and although I'm enjoying the characters, I have to make sure that what's in my head is shown clearly enough on the page. This book is excellent and condences all the points covered at the end of each chapter as a tick list. I shall give it a go.

The other day R bought a smoothie maker as I've yearned for one for ages and so yesterday I traipsed to the shops. Well, not exactly traipsed as I stopped the car on the way home from work and it was only one shop, so in all actuality I didn't really put myself out at all. Anyway, I arrived home laden with strawberries, bananas, blueberries and apples expecting great success but when I made the smoothies the reactions from J & S were tepid to say the least.

"Mum, how can you forget that I'm allergic to bananas?" S pouted most indignant that her own mother would even contemplate making a drink with an ingredient that although won't kill her, will make her rather ill.

They don't expect much, do they? I had been on the go since 6.15am and all J & S had managed to do was sleep, eat and watch tv. J insisted that he had been studying relentlessly all day, although knowing him as I do I rather doubt this.

Needless to say, I shall have to buy a book on ideas for smoothies (any excuse to go book shopping) otherwise I just know that this shiny machine will end up stuffed in the back of some cupboard.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Just a Quickie

Yvonne tagged me for a six word memoir. I am:


I tag lane maddie moon and kerry.

Crikey, that makes me look very confused. I've now got to go to the shed to write, write, write.

Monday, 14 April 2008

London Book Fair Masterclass Report - Deb's version

I arrived by taxi as R felt sure I would get lost, although even I can manage to change tubes/trains or whatever they are called on the underground. The first thing I did was buy a copy of Jonny Geller's book, 'Yes, but is it good for the Jews?' and a cup of tea.

My first thought when I entered the packed auditorium containing approximately 500 people was how much competition there is for becoming published especially when you think how many writers I know that weren't there. Surely the attendees are a mere fraction of all the wannabes out there. However, when someone asked Harriet Evans to repeat the title of the Writer's and Artists Yearbook, I then thought that maybe all was not entirely lost.

(I now have to condense 17 pages of A5 notebook into this post so I shall do my best).

Jonny Geller (Literary Agent and Author), Harriet Evans (Editorial Director & Author), Gareth Sibson (self-published ex-lawyer and ex marketing consultant), Joanna Trollope (Author), Adele Parks (Author) and Danuta Kean (Journalist & Publishing Commentator) were all extremely helpful and approachable. Jonny Geller happily signed my copy of his book even though we were supposed to go through to another room for the one-to-ones asked if I had found the masterclass useful. Naturally I told him that I had. He has beautiful hypnotic eyes (sorry, I digress).

Here are the main points:

Jonny Geller - 99% of all work is publised through an agent who is an author's best friend and business partner. He does accept usolicited manuscripts but is not interested in historicals or sagas and said that you need to send your m/s to the correct agent for your genre.
- Work out who you are as a writer and edit, edit, edit.
- Ask yourself, what are you sending? What is it about? Know your target.
- Determination is vital ie The Memory Keeper's Daughter did the rounds three times as did Lovely Bones. Daniel Clay's, Broken was rejected about 37 times. Daniel Clay's account of how he escaped the slushpile and also his submission letter and synopsis sent to Jonny Geller is here

JG said to be aware that determination is as important as talent. He receives about five submissions per day and 200 per month at his agency..

What he is looking for in a covering letter is brevity. Be brief, say who you are (briefly), then three sentences of blurb on your book (not a pitch, ie Sofacles meets Quentin Tarantino).
Do put the hook that leads you to the book.

He said there is a 10 word rule (although I only have 10 and apologise if the missing one is vital) which is: "This is a story about a man/woman who..." Remember: say what the book is about.
- Letters must be addressed to a person. See who to write to by looking up the agency's website or in acknowledgements of a book that you think relevant. Do not address your letter Dear Sir/Dear Madam. Focus who you are sending it to and do your homework.

He said that copyright exists automatically as soon as the work is created. Words are copyrighted, ideas cannot be.

- Be interesting and new
- The publishing world is desperate for new and interesting work.

When asked what he was looking for and what left him cold, JG said that he doesnt like anything based in an office. He believes that it is going more to the 20-something market again; sincere stories with attitude that make the reader weep. Post 9/11 books; gritty urban stuff is nearly back. Historicals too and writing with a twist ie with a strong femal lead, fantasy is still big ie Labyrynth, Lovely Bones etc. Re: bonkbusters, the publishing industry is waiting to see what happens with Platinum when it comes out next month.

Names are important. 'It's a Sin' by Nigel Spriggs became 'Broken' by Daniel Clay. Everything is a product and has to be sold.

When asked the worst/best time to submit:

Worst: April (London Book Fair - not 3wks before or 2 wks after)
October (Frankfurt Book Fair)

Best: Early December when agents are winding down for Christmas. January and August are the best times to submit though.

Harriet Evans - edits commercial women's fiction such as Penny Vinchenzi, Emily Barr, Eva Rice. Her last two buys were, 'Top Tips for Girls' based on a newspaper column and Daisy Goodwin (bought only 3 wks ago) 'My Last Duchess'. The fact that these were by well known people or something already out there didn't give me much hope.

She wants to read: something that is involving and takes her to a world that she knows nothing about. She has to believe the world you are creating and says that Voice is vital as is Determination. Having written her own books (she is working on No 4) she is now tougher on her authors as she knows that if you want to get it right you have to rewrite until you do.

HE wanted her books accepted on their merit and not because of who she was (although the fact that she knew how best to word her submission would have helped) and sent a brief email attaching 6 chapters of her book and only said, "This book is called... and I want to write books like I Capture the Castle meets Notting Hill(??)" Again, keep it very short. She believes that even though she is an experienced editor, as a writer she is still learning her craft.

HE is not into historicals. She said that The Other Bolyn Girl was successful because is was unputdownable. Write about lives you want to know more about, not dull day-to-day stuff but about relationships that are interesting and have believable characters. Whatever you write, be it a bonkbuster or whatever, don't be cynical and love what you're writing about.

Gareth Sibson only sent to 10 agents and then self published with Authorhouse. He was very happy with them but said that he feels he missed out on the editing side even though his girlfriend and trusted friends did read his m/s and tell him honestly where they thought it went wrong. If he did it again he would send to at least 40 before trying the self-publishing route. He now has an agent who although she doesnt quite 'get' his novel (about a male Bridge Jones type), she does now believe that it is marketable (something he wanted to prove and added it as a download on his site that had 20k hits per day).
- Your work has to be 'of the moment'.
- It will need at least one edit (Deb - Thank heavens for RNA and the NWS scheme).
- Know your voice, it has to be good enough if you want to succeed.

They all agreed that you need an entertainment lawyer to help with selling film rights and to get contracts checked.

Danuta Kean said that if a publisher wants paying then don't go with them as you should have to pay to be published.
- Remember: word of mouth is vitally important.
- Make your work available by any means possible.

We've all heard of JK Rowling simply because there is only one JKR.

Joanne Trollop said that she wrote 7 historicals (her apprenticeship) before hitting the big time with her 4th contemporary novel. She took 20 years to make it big. She said:
- You have to be professional
- Your books have to be timed to the mood of what people are reading (ie it has probably helped that the Kite Runner is set in Afganistan, somewhere in the forefront of everyone's mind at the moment).
- Think about what are people sick of reading and what do they want to read
- You need to live to write - she believes that writers are better after 35 (well, that's something anyhow) as by that age they've been a bit battered by life and can therefore write about it.
-Take writing v seriously as a profession but with humility - like your book but be ready to learn
- Look at writing for every publication possible ie the parish magasine. The more practice the better and it will add to your CV.
- Train yourself to observe people. Observe, record and relate your characters.
- It has all been said before but you have to translate it in a new interesting way.
- Keep a scrapbook of life: scraps of your writing/poems/conversations in checkout queues etc
- There is also the prize route. JT has just chaired the Costa Price and said that the book that won was published by a small backstreet publisher and had been passed over by everyone else.

When you get a deal is when you start, not when you've succeeded.

Adele Parks - looks at structure. She makes detailed notes before starting a book (ie characters birth signs etc) even though this information may not be used in the book. She knows her characters thoroughly before writing.
- There are 1 million ways to be published. It isn't a science, so there are no guarantees that if you work hard you will be published.
- You have to be robust/thick-skinned to succeed.
- A published author has to do all sorts of promotion, writing, talking and different writing to support themself even when published (apparently T S Elliott worked in a bank).
- Show a friend or use a trust-worthy literary consultant. Adele Parks showed a trusted friend.
- She believes you need a lot of humour and authenticity in your writing.

I had a wonderful time and hope that this post isn't too jumbled but my brain is a bit switched off after my first day back at work after five days off (and days of endless walking around London) and I wanted to post this today. I did already know a lot of what was said but also learnt a lot too. The members of the panel did their best to answer questions from the audience and did their best to be as helpful as possible.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Back Home, London Book Fair & His Grumpiness

I've just arrived back from a fun but exhausting weekend in London (the endless walking has certainly helped towards my 5km training) to an enthusiastic welcome from His Grumpiness and shall have to now go and spend some time unpacking and sorting through washing (oh the glamour).

I shall of course be posting about my Masterclass at the London Book Fair tomorrow and have of course taken note of what was said by the lovely Jonny Geller, Harriet Evans, Danuta Kean (all very friendly when I spoke to them afterwards) and Joanna Trollope, Adele Parks and Gareth Sibson.

Hope you all had a great weekend. x

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Atonement & Tears Before Bedtime

Thank you to everyone for their kind birthday wishes. I had a fun day and as intended ended the evening watching Atonement in front of the fire with a bottle of champagne. I wasn't sure what to expect as, a) I haven't read the book yet, and b) I'd read a few so-so reviews about the film, but I loved it. It was beautifully filmed and a little confusing at times, although apparently the script was kept as close to the book as possible.

This morning S asked me if I'd enjoyed it and I told her that it had made me cry. "Mum," she giggled. "Everything you watch on tv makes you cry. You even cried when that man with the funny glasses and strange voice was buried the other day." She was referring to Frank Butcher's funeral on Eastenders (not a programme that I've watched much in recent years and I'm not even a particular fan of the actor). I think it was the thought that the actor himself had died so recently.

I was about to argue with her when she said, "You always cry at that Gok Wan bloke too." Well, when you see how he helps all those women with very little self-confidence to strip off like they do and bare all to the world, I can't help feeling emotional when watching how much better they look and feel at the end of the programme. Damn it, I hate to admit this but I have a feeling she may be right. I appear to be turning into a complete drip.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

I'm celebrating yet another birthday today and have had a thoroughly great day. I was woken at 7am by my mother who asked why I sounded so tired when I answered the phone (she lives in South Africa so is an hour ahead)and have had calls from friends, parents, siblings, aunts, ex-sil, etc who all thorougly spoilt me with various gifts ranging from a beautiful lidded pot with a bumble bee on (my name means "bee" in hebrew), jewellery, flowers, plants, vase, etc.

Dh bought me a beautiful black Lalique heart that I've wanted for ages and look what J & S gave me (they went to town last friday straight from breaking up at school to buy this lovely gift of Swarovski tulips in a crystal vase. I have been thoroughly spoilt. One of my sisters arrived at 10am
armed with flowers, a plant and a chocolate caterpiller birthday cake, her two year old daughter and four year old son. We went for a blissful walk with the children and Grumpy at Val de la Mare damn (very pretty) and I forgot that small children have small legs and can't walk that far so poor sis ended up carrying them back to the car, Grumpy dived into the water and had to be hauled out but it was great fun.

Went to the Watersplash at St Ouen's beach for lunch and sat outside (a bit cold but had the dog) and then home and tonight I'm opening a bottle of this all to myself and watching my Atonement DVD that arrived in the post today from the wonderful Amazon.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Stephen Wiltshire

Tomorrow at 9pm on Channel Five is a "must see" programme on tv. Extraordinary People: the Human Camera is about Stephen Wiltshire who, in 1987 at the age of 11 featured in a BBC documentary showing his incredible talent of drawing London buildings from memory with incredible accuracy.

Stephen is now 33 years old and enjoys a lucrative career, exhibiting and selling his artwork in his own gallery near Trafalgar Square. The programme follows his return to school to meet his teachers who encouraged his talents and shows him working on a four-metre aerial panorama of London, drawn from memory after a 15 minute ride in a helicopter. I remember the original programme well - I can't believe it was 22 years ago - and look forward to watching this tomorrow night.

I'm so pleased that work has finished for the day as I now have five days off to look forward to. I am so excited that I shall actually have time to get on with my redraft as the August deadline for RNA NWS is looming ever closer, so I need to get a move on.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Submissions/Rejections & Snow

Well the first rejection is in. It is from an email submission that I made last week. Oh well, it could be worse, I could have been Grumpy yesterday with the wind doing horrible things to my ears making me look like a cross between a dog and a bat.

It was so cold yesterday when S & I walked Grumpy down at Greve de Lecq that one side of my face and nose went numb. This was in the short time that I took the above photo. S & J were thrilled when it snowed later too. Okay, I know that by England/Scotland/Ireland/Wales standards our snow was pathetic but hey, we were excited. In fact (and this is no exaggeration) if there is more than two inches of snow here (can't remember the last time) the whole island grinds to a standstill, which is great of course if you have to miss school/work. Unfortunately it rarely happens.

I remember once when it did snow heavily when I was at work (hundreds of years ago) and a colleague offered me a lift home on her father's tractor (no, I'm not kidding) and I sniffed in horror and thanked her very much but said I would find my own way back. Unfortunately for (stupid) me, that entailed catching a bus to Bel Royal (about an hour or so walk away from my parent's home - and all up hill too, I might add) and then the bus driver refused to go any further and told us to all get off. I then began traipsing up the hill, slipped under some poor woman's car - she was going so slowly that I wasn't hurt but nearly gave the dear soul a heart attack. Then imagining how foolish I must have looked, I began to laugh and she must have thought I was completely insane.

I'm so cross that I didn't get to the computer until too late for Caroline's live blog yesterday and so missed out. I'm going to have a glass of wine now because I don't want to start feeling sorry for myself (I hate rejections, don't we all). I'll be fine tomorrow, or at least until the next one comes in, will then sulk for a couple of hours then send another batch out.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Submissions & New Addiction

I'm sitting here with a sore throat and pounding headache (thanks S for being so generous with your stonking head cold) having polished off a second packet of my favourite Snack A Jacks, Sour Cream & Sweet Chilli flavour. I bought these so that I wouldn't be tempted by the chocolate digestives and what do I do, of course I have to eat both packets.

Mind you, it's not all bad, I have sent off three submissions, so I'm not being too harsh on myself. I would put my headache down to too many hours looking at a screen but I don't think it's that. I also received an email stating that they've received my script, which will be judged in May. I'm not expecting anything with this as it was my first attempt and I didn't managed to attend the one day seminar about script writing. We have one local daily paper and I managed to miss the piece about the seminar. Never mind.

Regarding the fancy dress outfits (just in case you were wondering) we used to hold a large summer party with a different theme each year, hence all the different costumes (you should see the decorations in boxes up in the loft too). The parties came about when R & I had to think of a way to entertain 6 youngsters for a month during the holidays and so they used to spend their time making decorations and then decorating the house and garden, making outfits for themselves etc and at the end of the holidays we would throw the party. We didn't have one last year as R found the clearing up after 80 or so people (never mind the chaos for the build up to the party) a complete pain. They were good fun though. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

The Divine Miss M, Batman & Robin

Introducing the Divine Miss M, who at 112 in dog years has the body clock of a bat in that she sleeps all day and wakes at about 11pm for a bit of a play and mooch in the garden. Miss M belongs to a close friend and when I go to stay with them she is the dearest, funniest character although I think her nocturnal habits can be a tad exhausting to her mummy!

I was so tired yesterday that I was determined to get a decent nights sleep for once and be in bed by 8.30pm. J phoned just before that time and as I love my children, I pretended to be delighted to hear his voice. "Mum can you go in the loft and bring down the Batman and Robin outfits?" he asked. (Don't even go there and say that what I do with my weekends is my business - like the messenger did at work this morning).
"Oh you know I hate going into the loft," I groaned. "What do you want them for anyway?"
"Tomorrow. And Mum can you get the gorilla outfit from my wardrobe too?"
"What gorilla outfit?"
"Mum, the one in the big yellow bag, you can't miss it." Kisses blown down the phone in a last ditch attempt at persuasion. "I'll come into your office first thing tomorrow and collect them."

So, there I was at my desk this morning when K our wonderful Head Receptionist called and said that J was waiting for me. Apparently, he and 'Big Dave' (no idea who he is) were driving around the island today following the De La Salle Island Walk - this is an annual event where the students of J's school walk 36 miles around the island raising thousands for charity. J has managed 24 miles a couple of times and finished the course for the past two years and ending up with hands like bananas, but I digress. They were going to cheer the others on and take drinks etc. Naturally, he also needed money which K, our lovely head receptionist kindly gave him (I did remember to pay her back thankfully).

He has now returned home and informed me that he & Big Dave had a great day driving to various check points and cheering their schoolmates on. J as Robin and Big Dave as Batman (as he is the larger of the two he got the more manly outfit). Apparently it was too hot to go as a gorilla. He has now gone to phone Monkey - no not someone dressed as a gorilla, that's his nickname - I upset his mother who came to collect him some years ago from the house by shouting "Monkey!" up the stairs for him - well how the hell was I supposed to know that his name was Michael and that his mother knew nothing about his nickname. Oh the joys of parenthood.

I suppose that I can at least be grateful that he isn't shy and for once I can't say that he takes after his father by doing this. Not that I have ever dressed up as Robin, or Batman, or any other superhero for that matter.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

World Autism Day

Today, 2nd April has been declared the first World Autism Awareness Day. I found these interesting facts on the World Autism Awareness Day site.

Did you know…

- Autism affects as many as 1 in 150 children and 1 in 94 boys
- Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the world
- More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with diabetes, cancer, & AIDS combined
- Boys are four times more likely than girls to have autism
- There is no medical detection or cure for autism, but early diagnosis and intervention improve outcomes
- Autism does not discriminate by geography, class, or ethnicity

For more information please take a look at their site here

I had never heard of Asperger Syndrome until my nephew was diagnosed with it as a toddler. A is now fourteen and what he doesn't know about cars isn't worth knowing. He attends a mainstream school and was in the first year of students with special needs to be taught at his school. To my children, he is just A with his own personality, foibles, likes and dislikes. He is a wonderful chap and says it like it is and has certainly helped me to look at life and the people we share it with from a different perspective.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Heaven Sent & Dior Lipsticks

The shortlist for the 2008 Melissa Nathan Awards for Comedy Romance has been announced and one of the shortlisted books is the superb HEAVEN SENT by Christina Jones. If you haven't read this book yet then you really and truly should. I loved it but then I have to admit that I've adored all Christina Jones' books.

Here's the full shortlist:

HEAVEN SENT by Christine Jones (Little, Brown)

MRS ZHIVAGO OF QUEEN’S PARK by Olivia Lichtenstein (Orion)

31 DREAM STREET by Lisa Jewell (Penguin)


A GIRL’S GUIDE TO KISSING FROGS by Victoria Clayton (HarperCollins)

MERDE HAPPENS by Stephen Clarke (Transworld)

The overall winner, and winners of the sub-category awards, will be announced at a ceremony to be held in London on June 18th.

I have to admit that I actually do like living where I live but it certainly has its downside. Take lipsticks, for example, no sooner do I find one that suits me perfectly (well, I liked it, not too sure what anyone else thought when I wore it). My favourite lipstick (Christian Dior Addict Ultra-Shine #482) is impossible to find over here. I have been informed by every make up store/department that this lipstick has been discontinued. I have tried buying it online but (can't remember who with, oh yes, it was Boots) let me go through the entire rigmarole until the end where it stated that they don't send to the Channel Islands. Note to senior person who decides these things, this isn't Mars or Pluto, we're only a short trip across the waves.

Nevermind, I shall simply have to stock up when I'm in London in just over a week for the London Book Fair - SO EXCITED - I just hope I don't get lost as I have the sense of direction of a confused gnat.