Saturday, 31 January 2009

Jolly Postman

I haven't blogged since Tuesday and am suitably ashamed, but I seem to have lots of correspondence just now.

On Thursday I was in York for some serious thought, study and input, but before that, yes, I did go shopping. York has a brand new Beatrix Potter shop. I was raised on Beatrix Potter, I brought up my children on Beatrix Potter, and I am doing the same for my godchildren. I came away with the Tale of Mrs Tiggywinkle, which was always one of my favourites, and some ideas for birthdays.

I got home late at night to find some letters from the US. The next morning, there was a whole box of them, this time from the Mistmantle Pilgrims who came to see me last year, with some beautiful photographs taken in York, Alnwick and Alnmouth. And today, along came my advance copy of the hamster book.

Oh, the hamster...

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

waddle waddle splash

I have always liked penguins. Apparently when I was small they were my favourite creature in the zoo, and I can remember a visit to (I think) Edinburgh Zoo when it was most important to be there in time to watch them being fed. I don't know how old I was, but I have the sense that I'd been looking forward hugely to this trip, and wasn't disappointed.

Today - in connection with something I'm working on - I had to learn a bit about penguins, and I had no idea there were so many different kinds. So my word to you today is - GOOGLE A PENGUIN! Or whatever search engine you use, send it on a penguin hunt. They're such fun!

Puffins are so special, too. My friend Claire and I are devotees of puffins. Speaking of Puffins, the Puffin will bring you the hamster soon.

In the meantime, google a penguin!

Saturday, 24 January 2009


I love being a godmother. I have seven delightful, gifted, talented godchildren, five of whom spent the day here. I'm always touched by the way this family looking forward to being here! It was extra special this time, as this visit had been postponed twice due to the usual coughs, colds, viruses, lurgies and plagues that work their way through big families.

Because our Christmas get together had to be cancelled we exchanged prsents today, and I was put to shame, because all the presents we gave were bought - lovingly and carefully chosen, but bought - whereas the children brought beautiful home made jewellery, angels, and funny faces with grass seeds on the tops of their heads so you can water them and make them grow. (The funny faces, not the children). They are very impressed at having a godmother who writes books, but I'm looking forward to wearing my new jewellery in the hope that somebody wil admire it and I can tell them about my godchildren. Not just talented, either, but warm, loving, and thoroughly show-offable. The boys try very patiently to teach me about robots, space vehicles, and intergalactic battles, but I don't really get it, being more of a Jane Austen girl myself. I have more in common with Miss Not-Quite-Twenty-Months-Old who likes hats, especially mine, and looked very stylish in it while talking at great length on the phone. I wish I knew what she was saying, it sounded fascinating.

However, they're not so brilliant that they do all this wonderful creative stuff unaided. Parents have their uses. Children - YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE - give them a hug and tell them how brilliant they are. And please teach me to make angels.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


Stunning snow today. It's not lying in the village, so we can all trottle about without falling over, but I was up in the hills today, where it's sparkling and still, covering the ridges and lying across the fields, with walls and fences marking out their old clear shape in the white landscape. At home, I saw the first nearly out snowdrop in the garden.

An advantage today of working from home was being able to stop what I was doing just after four and watch the inauguration of President Obama as it happened. One day I will say - I watched that live on television, the day I walked down from the hills in the snow and saw our first snowdrop of the year.

Friday, 16 January 2009


She's too busy to blog. Oh, poor her. I can't see what she's so busy about. A bit of pottering about, then everything stopped because a Russian version of one of her books came in, so she had to look at the pictures because she can't read a word of it. What, you might ask, is the point of writing a book if you can't read it? On Mistmantle we don't have books. We don't need them. We can remember our stories without writing them down, thank you. But if we did have books, Lady Aspen would have written wonderful ones - much better than hers - and done all the pictures herself.

Oh, and then she put her claw mark on a contract, twiddled about with a new story, got nowhere with it (not surprised) and went off to do the church after school club. After school club means a lot of very silly games, feeding the little monsters, telling stories (she can just about manage those ones without the book) and something they call craft, which usually means she comes home with paint on her paws and glue in her hair. Then off she went to write another stupid story. Oh, and now, (when she's washed the glue out of her hair) she's going to knit a camel.

Nobody has bothered to tell me what a camel is. But Lady Aspen would have knitted a a perfect one, and looked abolutely beautiful in it.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

lions and elephants

To update on the last blog - the books are in a healthy state of progress. The lion is absolutely fine. I haven't got up to the bit with the horse yet, so no progress there. The ducks have recovered from hypothermia and falling down on the ice, and the camel has been knitted and is waiting to be stuffed, but it's a Noah's Ark camel, so I need to do another one. (I'm sure some of you know the difference between male and female camels, but please don't tell me. It's more than I want or need to know.) The trains and elephants are sorted, thank you.

The lion and the horse are fictional, and are part of works in progress. The elephants are because a friend has developed a fixation with elephant jokes. But much more imminent is THE HAMSTER.

Yes. Cometh the hour, cometh the hamster. More about him over the next few weeks.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Owls, larks, and elephants

I'm just back from a lovely working break, staying somewhere quiet and remote with no home distractions to get in the way of work. I think I've given one book a sense of direction, and have started work on an idea which has been under constructon for years (most things seem to be like that.) In fact, I started the new book months ago, felt it wasn't quite right, and decided that I'd started it in the wrong place, ie, come into the story at the wrong point. I've started it again and I'm still not sure if I'm approaching it in the right way, but that's writing for you. I usually get it wrong before I get it right. You'd think I'd have learnt by now.

If you are a writer, all the above will make perfect sense. If you are an aspiring writer, it may help you to know that published writers still struggle with putting a story together and have to wrestle the thing to the ground. (It doesn't help that I'm an owl, not a lark, and for me, thoughts fall into place just when sensible people are hugging their teddy bears and snoring softly.) And if you're not a writer, it may be because you read books insead of writing them, which makes you a VEERY SENSIBLE PERSON and we need more like you.

In the coming few days I have to sort out books, trains, a lion, ducks, an elephant or two, and a horse. It was going to be a stag, but it's not now. Oh, and a camel. Not all of these are fictional. Have fun!

Friday, 2 January 2009

Happy New Year

This year I will

be more organised

write more letters

learn to do something useful (like first aid, or a language, or signing, or something)


In order to do this I must stop


putting off

stopping to just glance at a newspaper/book/website

and I must write lists and stick to them.

Easy, isn't it? :)

Oh dear. The gnome just fell off his snail laughing.

Happy New Year anyway!